UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 26 (UPI) -- The Islamic State executed as many as 670 prisoners in Mosul, Iraq's Badoush prison, the United Nations said Tuesday, calling it the worst massacre thus far committed by the extremist group.
"Grave, horrific human rights violations are being committed daily by Isil (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) and associated armed groups," said Navi Pillay, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, on Monday. "They are systematically targeting men, women and children based on their ethnic, religious or sectarian affiliation."
Pillay referred to the systematic campaign against Christians, Yazidis and Turkmen as "ethnic and religious cleansing," and described an incident on a single day in June, after IS captured Mosul. Badoush prison inmates were separated by religion, with Sunni Muslims taken away while the rest -- 670 people, according to witnesses and escapees -- were slaughtered.
A separate U.N. committee Monday called on the U.N. Security Council to establish a "safe zone" in Iraq to protect minorities.
An estimated 1.2 million Iraqis are refugees, with many seeking asylum in other countries. The population of Iraqi Christians has fallen from an estimated 1.4 million in 2003 to 300,000, and those in Syria who adhere to the Syriac Christian sect fled their Hassakah province homes after the area was taken by IS forces.