Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) An Iraqi army division trained by the United States government allegedly executed dozen prisoners in the Old City of Mosul, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Thursday.
HRW urged the US government to suspend all assistance and support to the 16th Division pending Iraq’s full investigation of the allegations and appropriate prosecutions, according to a report released by the organization.
The watchdog explained that, under the Leahy Law, the US is prohibited from providing military assistance to any unit of foreign security forces if there is credible evidence that the unit has committed gross violations of human rights, noting that no “effective measures are being taken to bring those responsible to justice”.
Two international observers independently told HRW that on a day in mid-July at about 10 a.m. in Mosul’s Old City, they saw a group of Iraqi soldiers who identified themselves as members of the 16th Division lead four naked men down an alleyway, after which they heard multiple gunshots. The observers said other soldiers standing in the street told them that the four men were Islamic State (IS) fighters.
“The US government should make sure it is no longer providing assistance to the Iraqi unit responsible for this spate of executions but also suspend any plans for future assistance until these atrocities have been properly investigated,” HRW’s Middle East director Sarah Leah said.
“Given the widespread abuses by Iraqi forces and the government’s abysmal record on accountability, the US should take a hard look at its involvement with Iraqi forces,” she added. “The US military should find out why a force that it trained and supported is committing ghastly war crimes, US taxpayer dollars should be helping to curtail abuses, not enable them”.
Amnesty earlier called on for a commission to investigate crimes against civilians in Mosul by all sides in the battle, accusing the Iraqi forces and US-led coalition of carrying out unlawful attacks and the use of imprecise and explosive weapons.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi defended the human rights record of his security forces, rebuking Amnesty International for accusing his troops of breaches during the war against Islamic State in Mosul.