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​ISIS fighters in preparation for the battle for Mosul have been combing the villages south of the fortified for human shields. The Associated Press reported that residents are being taken from their homes by the group in areas around the city and forced to march as far as 40 miles to Mosul, where Iraqi Security Forces leaders believe they will be deployed as human shields during the battle to retake the city. Those who resist have been killed, villagers who managed to escape from ISIS told the AP. "IS took all of us from our homes at gunpoint and told us they were taking us with them to Mosul," one witness told the news agency on Wednesday. "They said if you don't come with us you're an unbeliever." Iraqi forces launched the battle to retake Mosul from ISIS control on Oct. 17. Fighting so far has focused on towns outside of Mosul, and the effort to free the city itself from ISIS is expected to take weeks or even months.