‘Terrifying’ UN report details ISIS war crimes in Iraq
Islamic State (IS) insurgents and associated armed groups in Iraq have committed a “staggering array” of human rights abuses – including mass executions, abducting women, and using girls as sex slaves, according to a UN report.
The report released on Thursday was produced jointly by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and is based on 500 interviews with witnesses.
It concludes that crimes committed primarily by the Islamic State and affiliated groups, but also by Iraqi security forces, between July 6 and September 10 may be considered war crimes or crimes against humanity, which demand prosecution.
“The array of violations and abuses perpetrated by ISIL and associated armed groups is staggering, and many of their acts may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.
READ MORE: UN: ISIS and govt forces guilty of atrocities in Iraq
The report says that 9,347 civilians have been killed and 17,386 others wounded this year, up until September. It adds that half the number of killings were perpetrated after Islamic State militants started capturing large swathes of northern Iraq in June.
Meanwhile, 1.8 million Iraqis have been forced to flee their homes.
Islamic State forces have committed appalling and numerous human rights abuses, many of which are of a sectarian nature against minority groups such as Christians, Yazidis, and Shiite Muslims.
“These include attacks directly against women and children, forced recruitment of children, destruction of places of religious or cultural significance, wanton destruction and looting of property and denial of fundamental freedoms,” the report states.
In a single massacre on June 12, 1,500 Iraqi soldiers and security officers were captured and executed by IS fighters who then boasted of their killings on the internet.
One of the worst affected areas was the Sinjar district, which until the arrival of IS was predominately inhabited by the Yazidi, Turkmen, Christians, and Shabak.
READ MORE: ISIS militants massacre 80 Yazidis, kidnap women in Iraqi village
When their towns and villages were overrun by IS, many sought refuge on the nearby Sinjar Mountains, with some reports claiming that as many as 200,000 people were trapped there without food, water, or shelter. The siege of Mount Sinjar by IS was eventually broken, but refugees have been unable to return to their homes, with most of them fleeing to Kurdish held areas of Iraq and Syria.
Women have also been appallingly treated. In August, up to 500 women and girls were forcibly taken to the Tal Afar citadel in the Nineveh region of northern Iraq. Of those, 150 unmarried women and girls from the Yazidi community were then transported to Syria, where they were either sold as sex slaves or given to IS fighters as battle rewards.
In areas of Iraq controlled by the Islamic State, trials have been conducted by self-appointed courts where people, including Sunnis, have been condemned to death for breaking Sharia law. On August 21, a man was stoned to death by IS for committing adultery. Meanwhile, IS fighters have been given sex slaves.
The Islamic State has also carried out indiscriminate destruction of places of cultural and religious significance which do not conform to its takfiri doctrine. Under the doctrine, Sunni militants justify their actions by branding others as apostates.
There is also a wealth of evidence that IS militants have looted and demolished the homes of people who refuse to help them in their bloody rampage. On July 20, the house of Sheikh Anwar al-Asi, head of the Obaidi tribe, was looted and blown up. Despite being a Sunni, the sheikh had refused to provide IS with men and vehicles.
The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, called the report “terrifying,” stating that hundreds of allegations were not included because they could not be properly verified.
READ MORE: ‘ISIS commits mass murder, advertises it’: Iraq executions detailed
“Iraqi leaders must act in unity to restore control over areas that have been taken over by IS and implement inclusive social, political and economic reforms,” he said.
The Iraqi government was also criticized for carrying out airstrikes on Sunni militants, which caused “significant civilian deaths” by indiscriminately hitting villages, schools, and hospitals.
Meanwhile, IS fighters are continuing their assault on the Syrian border town of Kobane, sending thousands of Kurdish refugees fleeing into neighboring Turkey and threatening to drag Ankara deeper into the conflict. Turkish MPs have backed a motion on the use military action against the Islamic State, and will allow the country's military into Iraq and Syria.