In the Iraqi government’s concern about the fate of civilians in ISIS-held Fallujah, we have repeatedly been reminded that some 50,000 are still in the city. Several hundred managed to escape, but the reports today suggest they didn’t get far, and probably would’ve been better off staying under siege.
New reports emerging today reveal that the Shi’ite militias involved in the offensive against the overwhelmingly Sunni city “detained” the fleeing civilians by the hundreds, hauling them off to the militia-run sections of the Mazraa Army Base, where they are held incommunicado.
In keeping with the militias’ track record in previous “liberation” of Sunni territory, the detainees who have been freed, which are a small minority of the overall number of captives, showed signs of severe torture, and at least four died of their injuries already.
Those released say they were reportedly tortured by militia members asking them if they were ISIS members, before ultimately being released. Anbar Provincial MP Sheikh Raja al-Issawi criticized the move, and pushed for a government investigation of the matter.
That’s unlikely to happen, as the government is so deeply beholden to the militias, and indeed so many of the militias’ top leaders are also politically powerful figures, that they really are above the law in Iraq. This is how previous concerns about such actions, including from the US and the international community, were quickly dismissed by the government as “ISIS propaganda.”
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