BAGHDAD, Iraq (Kurdistan24) – At least 643 men and boys from Saqlawiya in the Anbar governorate in Iraq are still missing over a year after they were taken by the Hashd al-Shaabi, according to Amnesty International.
The abductions reportedly took place during military operations to retake Fallujah and surrounding areas from the Islamic State (IS) in 2016.
According to testimony gathered by Amnesty, on the morning of June 3, 2016, “thousands of men, women, and children fleeing from the area of Saqlawiya were met by armed individuals carrying machine guns and assault rifles.”
“Witnesses identified the armed men as members of the PMF, based on emblems on their uniforms and flags,” the report read, referring to the Hashd al-Shaabi, also known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).
A portion of an estimated 1,300 men and older boys considered to be of fighting age were detained and transported elsewhere.
“The fate of the men and boys who boarded these vehicles remains unknown,” Amnesty explained.
The local government of Anbar set up an investigation committee which found that 643 internally displaced men and boys from the area of Saqlawiya were missing.
According to the report, in late May 2017, Amnesty researchers were in touch with families in camps for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the Anbar governorate who said they are still unaware of the fate of their loved ones.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany