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UN: IS May Have Committed War Crimes in Iraq

  • Lisa Schlein

FILE - Displaced Yazidis, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State group, head toward the Syrian border, Aug. 11, 2014.

FILE - Displaced Yazidis, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State group, head toward the Syrian border, Aug. 11, 2014.

A new United Nations report finds the Islamic State (IS) group may be guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. The report lists wide-ranging atrocities committed by the IS in Iraq between June 2014 to February 2015.

Human Rights Violations by the Islamic State

Human Rights Violations by the Islamic State

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights report is based on interviews with more than 100 people who witnessed or survived attacks by IS militants during the past nine months in Iraq. U.N. investigators say they find the scale of abuses and the nature of the crimes perpetrated particularly shocking.

Abuses committed by the extremists include killings, torture, rape and sexual slavery, forced religious conversions, and the conscription of children. It says these violations may constitute crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Head of the Investigation Mission to Iraq, Suki Nagra, said the crimes committed by IS militants are calculated and organized, sparing no community in Iraq.

“Essentially, what we are seeing is the rich ethnic and religious diversity in Iraq that has been shattered completely. On attacks against the Yazidi in particular we found that there was a manifest pattern of killing that caused serious bodily and mental harm and also involved the forced transfer of children. These attacks were aimed at destroying the Yazidi as a group. And this is why we say that genocide may have been perpetrated by ISIL (Islamic State),” said Nagra.

Gruesome details

The report documents in gruesome detail the widespread and systematic horrors committed by the extremist Islamists. The report cites the brutal and targeted killings of hundreds of Yazidi men and boys.

While the men were shot, it says the women were abducted as the "spoils of war," many of them being openly sold or handed over as “gifts” to IS terrorists. Girls as young as six have been repeatedly raped, subjected to sexual abuse and sold as slaves.

Nagra said U.N. investigators interviewed several young boys who had escaped captivity. Based on their testimony, she says it is likely hundreds, if not thousands, of children have been recruited as soldiers by the militants.

“Boys as young as eight were forced to convert to Islam. They were trained on how to use weapons. They were forced to watch beheadings, they told us several times, and when they resisted, they were beaten," said she.

Nagra says investigators were able to ascertain that many foreign fighters are among the IS group. She says some of the foreign fighters were nationals from two Western countries, but most came from neighboring states. She would not name the countries.

The investigators also have received credible information about human rights violations committed by Iraqi security forces and allied militia. The report says during their campaign against IS last summer they left a trail of extrajudicial killings, torture, abductions and forcible displacement of people.

The report calls for the situation of possible genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Iraq be referred to the International Criminal Court.

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