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Iraq

    May 24, 2017

    The US Army failed to keep tabs on more than $1 billion worth of arms and other military equipment in Iraq and Kuwait according to a now declassified Department of Defense (DoD) audit, obtained by Amnesty International following Freedom of Information requests.

    The government audit, from September 2016, reveals that the DoD “did not have accurate, up-to-date records on the quantity and location” of a vast amount of equipment pouring into Kuwait and Iraq to provision the Iraqi Army.

    “This audit provides a worrying insight into the US Army’s flawed – and potentially dangerous - system for controlling millions of dollars’ worth of arms transfers to a hugely volatile region,” said Patrick Wilcken, Amnesty International’s Arms Control and Human Rights Researcher.

    “It makes for especially sobering reading given the long history of leakage of US arms to multiple armed groups committing atrocities in Iraq, including the armed group calling itself the Islamic State.”

    April 10, 2017

    By Razaw Salihy, Iraq Campaigner at Amnesty International

    Civilians caught in the crossfire are paying the ultimate price, as Iraqi forces aided by US-led coalition airstrikes continue to push west into the city of Mosul in an effort to drive the armed group calling itself the Islamic State (IS) out of neighbourhoods west of the Tigris River. The military operation to retake the city, which began on 17 October 2016, has already left hundreds of civilians dead and more than 300,000 displaced.

    During a fact-finding mission to northern Iraq in mid-March 2017, Amnesty International met with a number of families who made it to safety in camps for internally displaced persons (IDP) in the Ninewa governorate and in nearby areas under the control of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). They told tales of unimaginable fear and suffering.

    April 03, 2017

    Senior Crisis Adviser Donatella Rovera blogs from Mosul, Iraq. Follow Donatella on Twitter @ DRovera.

    When they heard that there would be airstrikes on their neighborhood in eastern Mosul, Wa’ad Ahmad al-Tai and his family did exactly as they were told.

    “We followed the instructions of the government, which told us, ‘Stay in your homes and avoid displacement,’” he said. “We heard these instructions on the radio. … Also leaflets were dropped by planes. This is why we stayed in our homes.”

    Shortly afterward, the bombs came raining down. As the terrified al-Tai family huddled together, the house next door collapsed on them. Six people were killed there on the morning of Nov. 7, 2016, including Wa’ad’s 3-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son.

    As I traveled through eastern Mosul earlier this month, I heard versions of this story again and again from families who had lost relatives in airstrikes carried out by the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State. Filled with rage and grief, Mosul residents described how they were expressly told to stay in their homes and were then bombed inside them.

    March 28, 2017

    Hundreds of civilians have been killed by airstrikes inside their homes or in places where they sought refuge after following Iraqi government advice not to leave during the offensive to recapture the city of Mosul from the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS), said Amnesty International. Survivors and eyewitnesses in East Mosul said they did not try to flee as the battle got underway because they received repeated instructions from the Iraqi authorities to remain in their homes.

    The shocking spike in civilian casualties from both US-led coalition airstrikes and ground fighting between the Iraqi military and IS fighters in recent months has also raised serious questions about the lawfulness of these attacks. In one of the deadliest strikes in years just days ago on 17 March 2017, up to 150 people were reported killed in a coalition airstrike in the Jadida neighbourhood of West Mosul, eventually leading the coalition to announce that it is investigating the incident.

    January 05, 2017
    Militias allied to the Iraqi government have access to arms from at least 16 countries Recent arms transfers have fuelled enforced disappearances, abductions, torture, summary killings, and deliberate destruction of civilian property Iraq is the world’s sixth-largest importer of heavy weaponry

    Paramilitary militias nominally operating as part of the Iraqi armed forces in the fight against the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) are using arms from Iraqi military stockpiles, provided by the USA, Europe, Russia and Iran, to commit war crimes, revenge attacks and other atrocities said Amnesty International in a new report today.

    Field research and detailed expert analysis of photographic and video evidence since June 2014 has found that these paramilitary militias have benefited from transfers of arms manufactured in at least 16 countries, which include tanks and artillery as well as a wide range of small arms.

    January 03, 2017

    The armed group calling itself the Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility for Monday’s bombings, that targeted civilians in the predominantly Shi’a neighborhood of Sadr city, Baghdad. In response, Samah Hadid, Deputy Director for Campaigns at Amnesty International’s Beirut regional office.said:

    “The systematic targeting of civilians in busy neighborhoods during day time, shows the Islamic State’s appalling disregard for human life and an intent to harm and terrorize a civilian population. By claiming responsibility for these horrific attacks, the Islamic State is boasting of committing war crimes.

    “Such deliberate attacks on civilians can never be justified and constitute a clear violation of international humanitarian law. They must be stopped immediately and those behind the attacks must be brought to justice.”

    According to media reports, the multiple bombings left at least 35 people dead and more than sixty injured, with one targeting a busy market in the heart of Sadr city, another targeting the nearby car park of Al-Kindi hospital and the third exploding near the Jawader hospital.

    December 21, 2016

    Released 22 December 2016 00:00 GMT

    The desperate plight of a generation of children is in the balance as the bloody battle for the city of Mosul threatens to become a humanitarian catastrophe, Amnesty International said today following a field investigation.

    On a visit to the region this month, the organization met children of all ages who had suffered terrible injuries after being caught in the line of fire between the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) and government forces, who are backed by a US-led coalition.

    “Children caught in the crossfire of the brutal battle for Mosul have seen things that no one, of any age, should ever see. I met children who have not only sustained horrific wounds but have also seen their relatives and neighbours decapitated in mortar strikes, torn to shreds by car bombs or mine explosions, or crushed under the rubble of their homes,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Adviser, who returned from a 17-day mission to northern Iraq.

    November 10, 2016

    The Iraqi authorities must urgently investigate reports that fighters wearing Iraqi Federal Police uniforms tortured and extrajudicially executed residents in villages they captured south of Mosul, said Amnesty International.

    Researchers from the organization visited several villages in the al-Shura and al-Qayyara sub-districts of Ninewa governorate, south-west and south of Mosul, and gathered evidence indicating that up to six people were extrajudicially executed in late October, apparently due to suspicions they had ties to the armed group calling itself the Islamic State (IS).

    “Men in Federal Police uniform have carried out multiple unlawful killings, apprehending and then deliberately killing in cold blood residents in villages south of Mosul. In some cases the residents were tortured before they were shot dead execution-style,” said Lynn Maalouf, Deputy Director for Research at Amnesty International’s Beirut Regional Office.

    November 07, 2016

    Kurdish authorities have carried out a wave of attacks, demolishing the homes and driving out hundreds of Arabs from Kirkuk, as apparent revenge for an attack carried out by the armed group calling itself the Islamic State (IS) on 21 October, said Amnesty International in a new briefing published today.

    The briefing, ‘Where are we supposed to go?’: Destruction and forced displacement in Kirkuk, highlights how hundreds of Sunni Arab residents, including many who fled fighting and insecurity in nearby governorates, have been expelled from Kirkuk. Many have been ordered to return to their places of origin or have been confined to camps after being suspected of assisting IS to co-ordinate the attack.

    November 02, 2016

    Militia fighters from the Sab’awi tribe have unlawfully detained, publicly humiliated and tortured or otherwise ill-treated men and boys in villages south-east of Mosul that were recaptured from the armed group calling itself the Islamic State (IS) in recent days, said Amnesty International.

    The organization’s researchers on the ground in Iraq interviewed local officials and eyewitnesses including villagers who described how members of the Sab’awi Tribal Mobilization militia (Hashd al-‘Ashairi) carried out punitive revenge attacks. Residents suspected of having ties to IS were beaten with metal rods and given electric shocks. Some were tied to the bonnets of vehicles and paraded through the streets or placed in cages.

    “There is strong evidence that Sab’awi tribal militia members have committed crimes under international law by torturing and otherwise ill-treating residents in Qati’ al Sab’awiin in revenge for crimes committed by IS,” said Lynn Maalouf, Deputy Director for Research at Amnesty International’s Beirut regional office.

    October 28, 2016

    The use of white phosphorus around the city of Mosul could pose a deadly risk to civilians fleeing the fighting in the coming days and weeks, Amnesty International said today.

    The organization received credible witness and photographic evidence of white phosphorus projectiles exploding in the air over an area north of the village of Karemlesh, about 20 kilometres east of Mosul. White phosphorus is an incendiary substance which burns at extremely high temperatures upon exposure to air.

    “White phosphorus can cause horrific injuries, burning deep into the muscle and bone. It is possible that some of it will only partially burn and could then reignite weeks after being deployed,” said Donatella Rovera, Senior Crisis Response Adviser at Amnesty International.

    “This means that civilians who flee the fighting around Mosul or residents returning to check on their homes in Karemlesh in the coming days or weeks would be at risk of serious harm even though there may be few visible warning signs.”

    October 27, 2016

    Military operations to retake Mosul and the surrounding areas from the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) are endangering civilians who are being caught in the crossfire or in some cases being used as human shields by IS fighters, said Amnesty International from northern Iraq.

    The organization’s research team met with civilians displaced from their homes in villages north of Mosul in recent days who are now in Zelikan and Khazer camps, in areas controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), and conducted phone interviews with people still trapped under IS control, gathering fresh evidence pointing to civilian deaths and injuries during in recent days.

    “With more than a million people believed to be still trapped in Mosul and its outskirts, the risks to civilians are sky high. IS’s utter disregard for the safety of civilians and their apparently deliberate use of human shields is putting people trapped in areas of active conflict at even greater risk, as Iraqi forces advance,” said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Research at the Beirut Regional Office.

    October 17, 2016
    Paramilitary militias and government forces in Iraq have committed serious human rights violations, including war crimes, by torturing, arbitrarily detaining, forcibly disappearing and extrajudicially executing thousands of civilians who have escaped areas controlled by the armed group calling itself the Islamic State (IS), said Amnesty International in a new report published today.   The report ‘Punished for Daesh’s crimes’: Displaced Iraqis abused by militias and government forces exposes the terrifying backlash against civilians fleeing IS-held territory, raising alarm about the risk of mass violations as the military operation to recapture the IS-held city of Mosul gets underway.   The report is based on interviews with more than 470 former detainees, witnesses and relatives of those killed, disappeared or detained, as well as officials, activists, humanitarian workers and others.  
    October 17, 2016

    Every effort must be made to protect civilians from the onslaught of war and potential revenge attacks in Mosul, said Amnesty International today as the operation to recapture the city from the armed group calling itself the Islamic State gets under way.

    Tomorrow, 18 October 2016, Amnesty International will launch a major new report ‘Punished for Daesh’s crimes’: Displaced Iraqis abused by militias and government forces which documents serious human rights violations - including war crimes committed by Iraqi militias and government forces against displaced civilians during past military operations. The report warns against a repeat of such violations on an even greater scale in the Mosul offensive.

    “Iraqi authorities must take concrete steps to ensure there is no repeat of the gross violations witnessed in Falluja and other parts of Iraq during confrontations between government forces and the Islamic State armed group,” said Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

    October 09, 2016
    Yezidi women and girls who have been enslaved, raped beaten and otherwise tortured by the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) are being failed by a lack of adequate support from the international community, said Amnesty International today.  Researchers from the organization interviewed 18 women and girls abducted by IS, during a visit to the semi-autonomous Kurdish Region of Iraq in August 2016. The women and girls had either escaped or were released after payment of ransom by their families. Several were driven to the brink of suicide or had sisters or daughters who killed themselves because of the appalling abuse they endured in captivity. The suffering of survivors is compounded by their current destitute living conditions, their grief for relatives killed by IS and their fears for those who remain in captivity.

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