Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a report Jan. 31 about the abduction and murder of dozens of Sunnis living in a town in the center of Iraq. “Members of [Shiite] militias, who the Iraqi government has included among its state forces, abducted and killed scores of Sunni residents in a central Iraq town and demolished Sunni homes, stores, and mosques following January 11, 2016 bombings claimed by the extremist group Islamic State [IS],” the report read.
Deputy Middle East Director at HRW Joe Stork was quoted in the report as saying, “Again civilians are paying the price for Iraq’s failure to rein in the out-of-control militias. Countries that support Iraqi security forces and the Popular Mobilization [Units] should insist that Baghdad bring an end to this deadly abuse.”
Saad al-Hadithi, spokesman for the information bureau of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, told Al-Monitor, “The report reflects a conflict or civil war, but the truth is not so. There are terrorist gangs that have targeted all Iraqis in Diyala province to spark strife that would end in civil war. We should stop them, unveil their crimes and show the unity of Iraqis.”
In its annual report on the situation of human rights in the world in 2015, HRW wrote, “Iraqi security forces and pro-government militias committed possible war crimes during 2015 in their fight against the extremist group Islamic State … by unlawfully demolishing buildings in recaptured areas and forcibly disappearing residents.”
HRW added, “Mostly [Shiite] militias fighting [IS] with the support of the Iraqi government, such as the Badr Brigades, League of the Righteous, and Hezbollah Brigades, carried out widespread violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, in particular by demolishing homes and shops in recaptured Sunni areas.”