US funding may ‘open the floodgates’ of arms to undesirable Iraqi & Syrian groups - Amnesty

US funding may ‘open the floodgates’ of arms to undesirable Iraqi & Syrian groups - Amnesty
Amnesty says if the US Congress votes to increase military spending on the operation against the Islamic State, a deluge of weapons could be supplied to forces and armed groups “with terrible human rights records” in Iraq and Syria.

“In its rush to ‘degrade and destroy’ the Islamic State armed group, the Obama administration must not trample its international human rights obligations,”saidSunjeev Bery of Amnesty International USA.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is annual legislation that directs budgeting and expenditure for the US military. The current legislation authorizes $6.6 billion for operations against the Islamic State, the extremist group America is targeting with airstrikes in Syria and Iraq.

The funding to combat the Islamic State includes the deployment of 1,500 additional US forces to train and supply Iraqi security forces over the next two years.

The bill was passed on December 4 by the House of Representatives, and now faces a vote in the US Senate.

READ MORE: Congressmen admit to not reading NDAA before voting for it: 'I trust the leadership'

According to Amnesty, if the Senate approves the new legislative proposals, it “could simply open the floodgates, putting more weapons into the hands of armed groups alleged to have committed serious human rights abuses in both Iraq and Syria.”

“Members of Congress should vote against such proposals in the NDAA and other legislation. In whatever form such legislation passes,” said Bery.

AFP Photo / Ahmad AL-Rubaye

He added that US Congress must “closely monitor how the administration provides military aid. Congress must push the White House and Pentagon to ensure all recipients of foreign military aid are thoroughly vetted in line with existing US laws.”

Amnesty International said it had recorded numerous rights violations made by armed groups and state-backed forces in both Iraq and Syria, and add that “unrestricted US military aid could make matters even worse.”

“To the victims of atrocities during armed conflict, it’s largely irrelevant what uniform the perpetrators wear,” said Bery.

“Before releasing any new military aid to Iraq, the US authorities must thoroughly vet all recipients, whether they are state-sponsored forces or not, to rule out a substantial risk they will commit further serious abuses.”

The NDAA also authorizes $521 billion in base discretionary spending for Defense Department activities, as well as $64 billion for overseas contingency operations.