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Iraqi Forces Carry Out Revenge Killings Against ISIS Suspects

As Iraqi forces gain upper hand, Sunni Muslims become the victims of further sectarian crimes.

By , a freelance journalist and was a 2019-2020 Henry Luce Foundation Scholar at the Japan Times.
TOPSHOT - Iraqi forces deploy in the Bajwaniyah village, about 30 kms south of Mosul, on October 18, 2016 after they liberated it from Islamic State (IS) group jihadists.  


Tens of thousands of Iraqi forces were making gains on the Islamic State group in Mosul  in an offensive US President Barack Obama warned would be a "difficult fight". / AFP / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE        (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Iraqi forces deploy in the Bajwaniyah village, about 30 kms south of Mosul, on October 18, 2016 after they liberated it from Islamic State (IS) group jihadists. Tens of thousands of Iraqi forces were making gains on the Islamic State group in Mosul in an offensive US President Barack Obama warned would be a "difficult fight". / AFP / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Iraqi forces deploy in the Bajwaniyah village, about 30 kms south of Mosul, on October 18, 2016 after they liberated it from Islamic State (IS) group jihadists. Tens of thousands of Iraqi forces were making gains on the Islamic State group in Mosul in an offensive US President Barack Obama warned would be a "difficult fight". / AFP / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)

An execution site has been discovered in the Iraqi city of Mosul, Human Rights Watch says, citing it as the latest evidence of retribution carried out by government forces after the defeat of Islamic State extremists.

International observers found the execution site in western Mosul on Wednesday, Human Rights Watch reported. When international observers, trusted by Human Rights Watch, visited the site, which consists of an empty building taken by Iraqi forces in April, they found 17 male corpses in pools of blood. A senior government official told the international observers that “he was comfortable with the execution of suspected ISIS-affiliates as long as there was no torture.”

ISIS has killed thousands of people while fighting between Islamic State forces and Iraqi soldiers has demolished large parts of the city, in which almost a million people once lived. Yet as Iraqi forces celebrate their victory over the terrorist group, there are increasing reports of war crimes.

An execution site has been discovered in the Iraqi city of Mosul, Human Rights Watch says, citing it as the latest evidence of retribution carried out by government forces after the defeat of Islamic State extremists.

International observers found the execution site in western Mosul on Wednesday, Human Rights Watch reported. When international observers, trusted by Human Rights Watch, visited the site, which consists of an empty building taken by Iraqi forces in April, they found 17 male corpses in pools of blood. A senior government official told the international observers that “he was comfortable with the execution of suspected ISIS-affiliates as long as there was no torture.”

ISIS has killed thousands of people while fighting between Islamic State forces and Iraqi soldiers has demolished large parts of the city, in which almost a million people once lived. Yet as Iraqi forces celebrate their victory over the terrorist group, there are increasing reports of war crimes.

A video of Iraqi troops throwing an unarmed fighter from a high ledge was also released. These crimes are not solely against ISIS fighters however, and some accounts include attacks against their families as well.

Human Rights Watch has found and documented at least 1,200 men and boys detained, and sometimes tortured and executed, under inhuman conditions by Iraqi forces. No Iraqi forces, some of whom are publicizing the murder and torture of suspected ISIS soldiers, have been charged.

ISIS hasn’t even been defeated in full yet, but as Iraqi forces begin to take the upper hand, Sunni Muslims are now the target of the country’s anger. Attacks against Sunni Muslims who once lived in ISIS-controlled areas have been underway since January, with families reportedly being targeted in densely populated areas.

“If we’re to keep…ISIS 2.0 from emerging, the Iraqi government is going to have to do something pretty significantly different,” said U.S. Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander of U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS, according to the BBC. “They’re going to have to reach out and reconcile with the Sunni population, and make them feel like their government in Baghdad represents them.”

Photo credit: AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images

Jesse Chase-Lubitz is a freelance journalist and was a 2019-2020 Henry Luce Foundation Scholar at the Japan Times. Twitter: @jesschaselubitz

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