Shia militia fighting IS in Iraq accused of war crimes
ERBIL, Iraq: Militia fighting alongside Iraqi troops against Islamic State are committing war crimes using weapons provided to the Iraqi military by the US, Europe, Russia and Iran, Amnesty International said yesterday.
The rights group said that predominantly Shia Muslim militia, known as the Hashid Shaabi, were using weapons from Iraqi military stockpiles to commit war crimes, including enforced disappearances, torture and summary killings.
Parliament voted for the Hashid to formally become part of Iraq’s armed forces in November, but the session was boycotted by Sunni representatives who worry it will entrench Shia majority rule as well as Iran’s regional influence.
Iraqi and Western officials have expressed serious concerns about the government’s ability to bring the Shia militias under greater control.
“International arms suppliers, including the US, European countries, Russia and Iran, must wake up to the fact that all arms transfers to Iraq carry a real risk of ending up in the hands of militia groups with long histories of human rights violations,” said Amnesty researcher Patrick Wilcken.
States wishing to sell arms to Iraq should ensure strict measures to ensure weapons will not be used by militias to violate human rights, he said.
Amnesty cited two-and-a-half years of its own research, including interviews with former detainees, witnesses, survivors, and relatives of those killed, detained or missing.
Its report focused on four powerful groups, most of which receive backing from Iran: the Badr Organisation, Asaib Ahl al-Haq, Kataib Hezbollah and Saraya al-Salam. Spokesmen for the Hashid and for the prime minister, to whom the fighters technically report, did not respond to requests for comment.
The Hashid deny having sectarian aims or committing widespread abuses and say they saved the nation by pushing IS back from Baghdad’s borders after the army crumbled in the face of the jihadists’ lightning advance in 2014. – Reuters