Every time Iraq has “liberated” a city from ISIS, it has been followed by brutal purges of civilians who were suspected of being in league with ISIS in some way. Though officials always promise the next time will be different, a new report from Human Rights Watch (HRW) shows that the trend has continued in the invasion of Mosul.
HRW documented the recovery of at least 26 different bodies found blindfolded, handcuffed, and executed in government-held parts of Mosul since their invasion of the city began, in 15 of the cases, local forces actually confirmed that Iraqi forces had summarily executed them for being “suspects.”
One journalist was even quoted as having been told by a government official that the Sunni militias which were participating in the offensive had killed 25 of the detainees they’d held and tried to dump the bodies in the river. Needless to say, Iraqi government investigations of such killings are all but non-existent.
The 26 bodies in government territory and 25 in the river are just the tip of the iceberg, as aid workers described finding a number of bodies left by the side of the road outside of Mosul, and being told by forces in the area that this was a place Iraqi soldiers routinely bring detainees for execution. The slain were all said to have been identified as among the 90,000 Iraqis “wanted for ISIS-affiliation.”
While it’s not unusual for militias to abuse their power, there are also growing signs that the government troops themselves are taking part in summary killings, and with US officials saying their intention is that “no one survives” the ISIS war, it’s starting to look like killing everyone is a deliberate strategy intended to avoid having to deal with post war detainees and evidence.