ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A Peshmerga fighter, while traveling to his hometown in Nineveh to receive his voter’s card last week, was captured and interrogated before being heavily tortured by Iranian-backed Shia Hashd Al-Shaabi fighters, also known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).
“After finding out that he [Rebar Taha] was a Kurdistan Democratic Party-affiliated (KDP) Peshmerga, [PMF checkpoint guards] took him into custody and subjected him to torture. The man is now in intensive care in the Duhok Hospital Emergency Room (ER) and remains unconscious,” according to a Kurdistan 24 correspondent who visited the ER where Taha is being monitored.
When questioned by the Hashd al-Shaabi checkpoint guards, Taha had told them he was on his way to Bashiqa, a predominantly Christian town north of Mosul, to receive his voter card, Kurdistan 24’s Duhok correspondent explained reporter clarified.
“You fought against the Iraqi forces in Altun Kupri (Pirde,)” the Hashd al-Shaabi interrogators reportedly told Taha.
Following the Oct. 16, 2017 takeover of Kirkuk by the Iraqi army and the Iranian-backed Shia militias, Iraqi security forces advanced toward Pirde four days later and launched an assault on the town, just south of the Kurdistan Region’s capital of Erbil. They were kept at bay by the Kurdish Peshmerga forces, who engaged in fierce clashes against the Hashd al-Shaabi.
Senior KDP official in Nineveh, Esmat Rajab, corroborated claims the Shia militia tortured Taha, revealing to Kurdistan 24 that there had been other instances of abuses in the lead-up to the May 12 elections.
“Some Peshmerga fighters, party members, and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) were subjected to Hashd al-Shaabi interrogations, and some to torture, as they traveled to their towns in Nineveh to obtain their voter cards.”
Relatives of Taha refused to speak to Kurdistan 24 out of fear the Hashd al-Shaabi would target and detain them at checkpoints when entering Nineveh province.
Editing by Nadia Riva