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Iraq investigating horrific video of soldiers throwing tortured IS suspects from clifftop

Iraqi officers defended the conduct of their troops [AFP]

Date of publication: 14 July, 2017

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Baghdad says it is investigating claims of sickening abuses by members of the Iraqi military, after a video emerged allegedly showing troops throw a IS suspect from a clifftop.

Baghdad says it is investigating claims of severe human rights abuses by the Iraqi military, after a horrifying video emerged showing troops allegedly killing a captive by throwing over a cliff.

The footage shows Iraqi soldiers beating a bearded man before dragging him to the cliff-face, where another body lies at the base.

After a struggle, the suspected Islamic State group militant is thrown from the cliff with troops firing on the two bodies lying on the ground.

There have been a number of videos allegedly showing Iraqi forces abusing, torturing or killing civilians and captured suspected IS militants during the recent campaign to liberate Mosul.

Abuses

Iraq has so far been reluctant to publically address the claims and even now the military appears lukewarm in its condemnation.

"Maybe these videos are being fabricated and quite frankly we will look into this matter very carefully and we will hold anybody who committed that act severely," said Brigadier General Yahya Rasool, a spokesperson for Iraq's Joint Operation's Command.

"Don't forget that there are those that would like to reduce the joy and the comfort we have from this victory," Rasool said at a briefing at the Pentagon.

Rasool was referring to the declaration by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on 11 July of victory over IS in Mosul. 

Abadi has defended the military's handling of operations in the northern Iraqi city, saying human rights groups should "check their sources" before making claims against troops. 

Human rights groups have alleged that troops and militias routinely kill and torture captives and civilians in Mosul, and flattened huge areas of the densely-packed city during the assault.

Rasool meanwhile blamed civilian deaths during the Battle of Mosul - which included a huge bombing campaign and the use of artillery - on IS militants, who used civilians as human shields during their final stand in the Old City.

"This organisation was the main reason (that) significantly (caused) casualties among civilians," he told reporters.

Taking action

Interior Ministry Spokesman Brigadier General Saad Maan has, however, insisted that authorities are taking the claims seriously and suspended troops suspected of committing abuses.

Maybe these videos are being fabricated and quite frankly we will look into this matter very carefully.
- Brigadier General Yahya Rasool, Iraqi military spokesperson


"There might be some misbehaviour or inappropriate conduct by some of the forces, yes. But the investigation is going on," he said.

Human rights groups say they are investigating the authenticity of the latest video, but that the footage is likely real.

The fate of IS captives who surrendered to Iraqi forces and their families has concerned rights groups.

A number of videos have shown gaunt, frightened, skeletal prisoners stripped to their underwear and beaten.

One Iraqi police officer claimed to have personally beheaded 50 prisoners with knives and allegedly showed photos and videos to a Swedish newspaper as proof.

There have other alleged mass killings by government-sanctioned Iraqi militias in previous campaigns outside Mosul. 

Fears of mass retaliation against Sunni civilians forced Abadi to exclude the Popular Mobilisation Forces from the Mosul offensive, relying on more professional counter-terrorism units, special forces, and federal police.

But analysts say the long and bloody campaign to free Mosul - along with previous massacres by IS militants against Iraqi troops, religious minorities and bombings - make it likely that wholesale retribution has been carried out.

 

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