Revenge Attacks Grow in and Around ‘Liberated’ Mosul

Growing Numbers of Mutilated Corpses Fished Out of the Tigris River

Finding dead bodies in the Tigris River around war-torn Mosul is pretty much a daily occurrence at this point. Most of badly decomposed, bound and blindfolded, often mutilated or showing signs of summary execution. The exact “how” behind all of this is never stated, but not hard to guess.

Videos have emerged of Iraqi forces executing “suspects” in Mosul, and one video even showed the troops casting the bodies down an embankment toward the river. This is the most visible example of the revenge killings that have followed the “liberation” of every large Sunni city in Iraq, and are now plaguing Mosul.

Even if local Sunni Arabs weren’t particularly keen on ISIS, the fact that ISIS wasn’t openly persecuting them has made them targets for other groups in the region, particularly Yazidis, who now believe that the Sunni Arabs were all effectively “collaborators” and need to be targeted.

Revenge attacks are, of course, commonly carried out by Shi’ite militias in these Sunni cities as well, and even the Iraqi military itself seems only too eager to take part, herding locals into “reeducation camps.” In the surrounding area, however, smaller groups, religious minorities, and other general anti-ISIS forces, are finding that with no ISIS left to fight, they can just as easily turn on civilians.

This has been a recurring problem for the Iraqi government, and one which in the past they’ve tried to solve by pretending it didn’t exist. In big cities like Mosul, however, winning the peace may be a lot harder than winning the war, and new things are going to fuel more Sunni unrest than revenge killings.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.