Human rights group accuses Iraqi forces of mutilating ISIS fighters corpses

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Iraqi soldiers are pictured surveying the battle scene in Qayyarah District. File photo: AFP

ARA News

Qayyarah – Militiamen, Iraqi Security Forces, and civilians mutilated and dragged the bodies of at least five dead fighters of the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) in the Iraqi town of Qayyarah on October 3, 2016, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Tuesday.

Anti-ISIS forces also executed at least one ISIS fighter after he surrendered.

“The Iraqi government should control its own forces and hold them accountable if it hopes to claim the moral upper hand in its fight against ISIS,” said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

“The failure to hold commanders and abusers to account does not bode well for the looming battle inside Mosul. Mutilation of corpses is a war crime, as is killing captured combatants or civilians,” she said.

According to HRW, the violations were carried out by both Iraqi troops and Hashad alAshar militia fighters from the Maraeed tribe, local to Qayyarah and a branch of al-Jabouri tribe–one of the largest Sunni Arab tribes in Iraq.

A Video published online showed how Iraqi forces encircled an ISIS fighter and shot him dead. Another video showed a group of Iraqi children dragging a dead ISIS fighter by a rope around his ankle. They kick and beat his body with a branch, and a man in military attire with a special forces badge on one shoulder kicks the head of the corpse several times.

Furthermore, a resident of the al-Hud village beheaded the corpse of an ISIS fighter, cut out his heart, and presented the heart to his mother because the dead ISIS fighter was the one who killed the man’s father and three of his uncles.

Human Rights Watch examined photos also taken on October 3, in Qayyarah, of what appeared to be four more corpses, one with various organs outside his body and covered in blood, another stripped naked, with children kicking it. Another was strung up by his leg, at the entrance of the Qayyarah football field, which had been reduced to rubble by airstrikes.

“The Iraqi authorities should prevent armed groups with records of serious abuses from taking part in planned military operations in the city of Mosul,” Human Rights Watch said. “This includes Hashad alAsha`ri militias and members of the [Shia majority] PMF [Popular Mobilization Units] responsible for serious rights abuses who have not been held to account.”

According to HRW, the Shia paramilitary groups such as the Badr Brigade, Hezbollah Brigade, and Imam Ali brigades operate in Qayyarah.

“The government should not stand idly by while fighters commit atrocities in its name,” Fakih said. “Political, security, and judicial officials should work together transparently to establish the truth about any abuses that take place in the course of this battle.”

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