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Rights Group Warns of Mine Threats in Former IS Territory

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Iraqi security forces inspect one of the damaged buildings after clashes between Iraqi security forces and members of the Islamic state in the city of Kirkuk, 180 miles (290 kilometers) north of Baghdad, Iraq, Oct, 22, 2016.

Iraqi security forces inspect one of the damaged buildings after clashes between Iraqi security forces and members of the Islamic state in the city of Kirkuk, 180 miles (290 kilometers) north of Baghdad, Iraq, Oct, 22, 2016.

Human Rights Watch warned Wednesday of the dangers civilians face from landmines placed by Islamic State fighters as battles continue to recapture control of areas in Syria and Iraq.

The group said its investigation in the northern Syrian city of Manbij turned up the names up 69 people killed by the explosives, and hospital staff reported treating hundreds of people hurt by mines.

Islamic State militants invaded Manbij in 2014 and the area was recaptured in August.

De-mining effort

HRW called on authorities and international organizations to raise awareness about the threat to those who are returning to their homes in recaptured areas. The group also said there should be efforts to clear residential areas of mines, and for countries bordering Syria to help de-mining companies get into the country.

"ISIS mined virtually everything, quite literally, the kitchen sink before they left," said Ole Solvang, HRW's deputy emergencies director. "These explosive devices have already killed and injured hundreds of civilians, but these numbers will increase even further as more people return to their homes."

This photograph shows the inside of the church of Saint Shmoni, damaged by Islamic State fighters, in Bartella, Iraq, Oct. 22, 2016.

This photograph shows the inside of the church of Saint Shmoni, damaged by Islamic State fighters, in Bartella, Iraq, Oct. 22, 2016.

Operation to re-capture Mosul

Iraqi forces are engaged in a major operation to try to recapture Mosul, the country's second largest city.

On Tuesday, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said an offensive aimed at retaking Islamic State's de facto capital in Raqqa, Syria will "overlap" with the Mosul effort.

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