Amnesty: Kurdish forces may be committing war crimes in Iraq

[JURIST] Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) [official website] forces and Kurdish militias are committing mass destruction in northern Iraq that may amount to war crimes, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] said in a report [text, PDF] Tuesday. AI claims that the KRG is leading an operation to burn, bomb and bulldoze homes in the Arab settled communities of Ninewa, Kirkuk and Diyala provinces, all of which were recaptured by Kurdish forces from the Islamic State (IS) [BBC report]. The KRG claims the regions are a threat to security because the occupants largely sympathize with IS, which is disputed by AI. The report contains satellite images that appear to corroborate the scale of the destruction. The number of displaced persons is estimated in the tens of thousands.

Kurdish Forces in Northern Iraq have been raising concern in recent weeks. In December the UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights Office (OHCHR) [official website] announced [press release] that it has received reports that human rights violations against Sunni Arab communities by Iraqi and Kurdish security forces are increasing in parts of Iraq that were reclaimed from IS. Spokesperson Cécile Pouilly [Twitter] stated that the security forces and their militias have been responsible for looting, destruction of property, forced evictions, abductions, illegal detention and extra-juridical killings. Reports indicate that the Sunni Arab communities face limited access to basic goods and services such as "water, food, shelter and medical care," and that 16 mass graves containing IS victims have been discovered. The UN is especially concerned for the Sunni Arabs stuck in the "no-man's-land" between Kurdish forces forces and IS [JURIST report].

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