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article imageOp-Ed: Both IS and Iraqi security forces guilty of war crimes

By Ken Hanly     Aug 26, 2014 in Politics
Baghdad - While no doubt the scale of Islamic State(IS) crimes are greater than those of Iraq security forces, both groups are guilty of what can only be termed war crimes.
In the case of IS the group often posts graphic videos or photos of their horrific acts, whereas those of the Iraqi security forces are often not visible and certainly not advertised. Navi Pillay, the UN High Commission for Human Right claims that "horrific human rights violations" are being committed by IS on a daily basis. IS acts include mass executions.
An earlier UN report this July claims: " Up to 670 prisoners from Badush prison in the city of Mosul were killed by ISIS on June 10 after being taken by truck to a vacant area and screened for non-Sunnis, she said, quoting survivors and witnesses to the "massacre" as telling U.N. human rights investigators. "Such cold-blooded, systematic and intentional killings of civilians, after singling them out for their religious affiliation, may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity,"
Yet Iraqi security forces have engaged in somewhat similar actions. 70 Sunni prisoners were allegedly killed in crossfire when there was an ISIS attack on the convoy transporting them. The truth was quite different:The police confirmed to Reuters that no ISIS attack ever took place on the convoy, and that the police decided to just execute all of them to “prevent them from escaping.” Earlier the same week police shot 52 prisoners in Baquba on the same pretext: The Iraqi government continues to deny the killings, though police brag about them openly as a law and order measure.
CNN reported on the killing of at least 44 prisoners at the Al Wahda police station. Police officials in Baquba told CNN that the prisoners were killed when ISIS militants fired mortar rounds into the prison. However, a health official claimed most prisoners were shot in the head and chest. None showed signs of being killed by an explosion as the police official claimed.
While the IS often boasts about its brutality and war crimes the Iraqi security forces try to cover them up. Iraq security forces have also been accused of violating the laws of war in their attacks on cities such as Fallujah that are occupied by IS. In Fallujah, Human Rights Watch reported in May: “The government has been firing wildly into Fallujah’s residential neighborhoods for more than four months, and ramped up its attacks in May. This reckless disregard for civilians is deadly for people caught between government forces and opposition groups.” Human Rights Watch also found evidence that Iraq was using barrel bombs. When Assad uses these in Syria it is denounced as a war crime. There was evidence as well that a hospital was targeted by Iraqi artillery and it was hit several times. The hospital treated some wounded opposition fighters.Fred Abrahams, special adviser at Human Rights Watch remarks: “The crimes by some opposition armed groups are abhorrent, but the Iraqi government cannot use them to justify its own unlawful attacks. Iraq’s allies should condemn the targeting of civilian infrastructure, the apparent use of barrel bombs and other indiscriminate attacks.”
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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