Iraq has launched an investigation into violations of human rights and other abuses against civilians purportedly committed by some of the country’s service members and their allies, including Iran-backed Shiite fighters.
This latest string of alleged abuses reportedly occurred at the hands of fighters participating in the ongoing offensive to retake the city of Mosul from the Sunni Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) terrorist group.
In a statement issued Monday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi (pictured), who has ordered the investigation into the alleged abuses, said the probe will examine “cases of kidnappings, mistreatment and violations” against civilians, reports the Associated Press (AP).
The PM blamed the abuses on “groups that exploit the good name” of Iraqi regular forces as well as Shiite and Sunni paramilitaries, adding that the violations are recorded and then posted on social media to “defame the real image of the brave security forces and their sacrifices.”
Earlier this month, human rights watchdog Amnesty International accused the Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), a predominantly Shiite paramilitary force legally operating as a component of the Iraqi military, of committing “war crimes, revenge attacks and other atrocities” in Iraq, including abductions, torture, and extrajudicial killings.
Moreover, soon after the start of the U.S.-backed Mosul offensive on October 17, disturbing videos surfaced on social media that appear to show U.S.-backed Iraqi government forces torturing children as they advance towards the city, the second in Iraq and ISIS’s last major stronghold in the country.
Iraqi lawmakers enacted a law to make the PMU legal and place them under the control of the Iraqi military, though answering directly to PM Abadi.
The Iraqi government investigation comes days after the United Nations demanded a probe into a video purportedly showing the brutal treatment and execution of at least three suspected ISIS jihadists in recently liberated eastern Mosul.
According to Amnesty International, the Iraqi government-sanctioned PMU is using weapons provided by the United States, Europe, Russia and state-sponsor of terrorism Iran, to commit war crimes.
“The [U.S.-backed] Iraqi authorities have helped to arm and equip the PMU militias and pay their salaries — they must stop turning a blind eye to this systematic pattern of serious human rights violations and war crimes,” declared Patrick Wilcken, researcher on arms control and human rights at Amnesty International.
Ahmed al-Assadi, a PMU spokesman, has dismissed the human rights watchdog’s allegations as “lies.”
In a recent interview with the Daily Beast, American Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the top commander of the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS, praised the Iran-allied PMU as a professional force and “remarkably disciplined” allies.
A U.S. defense official told Breitbart News on condition of anonymity that the U.S. military only trains and assists Shiite fighters in Iraq with no affiliation to Iran.