The Reuters investigation follows numerous warnings that the U.S. is backing armed forces guilty of human rights abuses in Iraq as part of the ongoing military campaign against ISIS, also known as Daesh and the Islamic state.
A report released earlier this year by Human Rights Watch focused on the aftermath of an early September 2014 offensive by Iraqi military forces, Shi’ite militias, and volunteer fighters, directly supported by U.S. airstrikes, which aimed to clear ISIS forces in and around the town of Amerli, in northern Iraq.
It found that, for at least two months after ISIS fled the area, Iraqi forces and militias raided Sunni-majority towns near Amerli in Salah al-Din and Kirkuk provinces. This included stealing civilians’ possessions and destroying buildings—and entire villages—through arson, explosives, and demolition. Researchers said at least 11 men were abducted.
And Amnesty International reported last year that Shi’ite militias within Iraq—many of them armed and backed by the U.S.-allied Iraqi government—are “taking advantage” of a climate of violence and impunity to abduct, execute, and disappear scores of Sunni civilian men.
U.S. forces, for their part, are also guilty of widespread atrocities, human rights abuses, and torture in Iraq, including at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison.
Civil society groups including the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq and the Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq have long warned that U.S. policies are directly fueling sectarianism and militarization in Iraqi society.
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