Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) Iraqi Shia militias have kidnapped 1000 Sunnis from Babil province over the past three years, an Iraqi parliament member said Tuesday.
In a press statement inside the parliament building, Kamel Ghariri, an independent, was quoted by Anadolu Agency demanding the Iraqi government to address the “loose” security situation in that province. He said while the whereabouts of those kidnapped remain unknown, hundreds others were killed, including chieftains, military members and local officials.
“The murders and abductions were carried out by lawless militias,” Ghariri said, but did not reveal the source of his information.
Babil residents have for the past few years complained of violations by Shia militias active in the province’s northern areas. The militias, according to the claims, arrest individuals for their suspected affiliation with Islamic State militants.
Babil is home for a mixed Shia and Sunni population.
Earlier this month, Iraqi parliament speaker Salim al-Jubouri said kidnappers stormed civilians’ houses in Jurf al-Sakhr area in Babil and arrested dozens of civilians. He said the violations were “clear attempts to reverse security achievements…and stir sectarian tensions”.
Mostly-Sunni Kurf al-Sakhr region, north of Babil, fell to IS when the extremist group invaded several Iraqi cities in 2014. The area was retaken by the pro-government, Shia-led Popular Mobilization Forces which changed the area’s name to Jurf al-Nasr, a step which Sunni politicians feared as a signal of plots to induce demographic changes to the town.
Some Iraqi news websites had blamed the kidnappings in Babel on Hezbollah Battalions, a Shia paramilitary group that is part of the PMF and adopts an eponym for the famous Lebanese militia. The reports quoted sources saying that the number of those kidnapped from a refugees shelter in al-Musayyab area reached 65.
Since their formation in 2014 by an edict from Iraq’s top Shia clergy in 2014 to counter IS militants, Popular Mobilization Forces, which won state recognition in 2016 as national armed troops, have been surrounded with accusations of human rights violations that included sectarian-based detentions, tortures and deportations of Sunni citizens.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, under whose authority the PMFs operate, has regularly defended the militias against such accusations.