US-trained Iraqi forces responsible for war crimes: HRW

A division in the Iraqi army trained by US forces is allegedly responsible for the execution of several dozen prisoners in Mosul’s Old City.

MOSUL, Iraq (Kurdistan 24) – A division of the Iraqi army trained by US forces are allegedly responsible for the execution of several dozen prisoners in Mosul’s Old City, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Thursday.

The Iraqi army’s 16th Division is being accused of killing dozens of people during the battle against the Islamic State (IS) in Mosul.

According to Sarah Leah Whitson, the Middle East director at HRW, the US government should stop its support to the faction responsible for the executions.

“The US government should make sure it is no longer providing assistance to the Iraqi unit responsible for this spate of executions,” she said.

The US should “also suspend any plans for future assistance until these atrocities have been properly investigated,” Whitson added.

Last week, HRW announced the discovery of a site in western Mosul where Iraqi forces, again from the 16th division, reportedly executed civilians.

“The US military should find out why a force that it trained and supported is committing ghastly war crimes,” Whitson stated.

HRW was unable to confirm if US forces were still providing training to the 16th division.

Meanwhile, an unnamed Iraqi army major said Iraqi troops in Mosul were given orders to clear the city entirely.

“After liberation was announced, the order was given to kill anything or anyone that moved,” he said. “There are many civilians among the bodies.”

“Most of the [IS] fighters surrendered,” the major continued. “They gave themselves up, and we just killed them.”

Whitson criticized Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi for disregarding accusations of rights violations against civilians.

“As Prime Minister Abadi enjoys victory in Mosul, he is ignoring the flood of evidence of his soldiers committing vicious war crimes in the very city he’s promised to liberate,” she said.

Abadi announced the defeat of IS in Mosul earlier this month, marking the end of the militant group’s chokehold on Iraq's second largest city.

However, during the nine-month military operation, rights groups pressed Baghdad to investigate human rights abuses by Iraqi forces.


Editing by G.H. Renaud