From Amnesty International.
Satellite images, videos, photos and dozens of testimonies collected by Amnesty International show that civilians were forced to flee their homes after fierce clashes erupted between Iraqi government forces, supported by the Popular Mobilization Units, and Kurdish Peshmerga forces in Iraq’s multi-ethnic city of Tuz Khurmatu on 16 October 2017.
Residents reported that at least 11 civilians were killed by indiscriminate attacks, while hundreds of properties were looted, set on fire and destroyed in what appears to be a targeted attack on predominantly Kurdish areas of the city.
Lynn Maalouf, Director of Research for the Middle East at Amnesty International, said:
“Within hours the lives of countless men, women and children were devastated in Tuz Khurmatu. Thousands have lost their homes, shops and everything they owned. They are now scattered in nearby camps, villages and cities, wondering whether they will ever be able to return.
“The Iraqi authorities already stated they would not tolerate any attacks against civilians, and would hold perpetrators accountable. They must now put word to action, and promptly initiate impartial investigations into these violations. Victims must receive full reparation and those responsible held to account.”
Between 18 and 23 October, Amnesty International interviewed 42 displaced residents of Tuz Khurmatu, conducted analysis of satellite imagery of the city and analyzed and authenticated photos and videos provided by residents showing damage to homes and other civilian property caused by arson and looting.
Tuz Khurmatu residents told Amnesty International that heavy clashes broke out after midnight on 16 October. Most of the civilians interviewed reported that they fled the city between 2am and 6am as a result of the fighting. The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) informed Amnesty International that nearly 35,000 civilians have fled Tuz Khurmatu since 16 October.
“Hameed”, a 68-year-old man, told Amnesty International that on 19 October he travelled from Zinana, the village to which he had fled on 16 October, to Tuz Khurmatu to check on his house, which is located near Sitar Mosque in al-Jumhuriya neighbourhood. He described what he saw: