News / Middle East

    Relatives of Abducted Iraqi Soldiers Storm Parliament

    FILE - This image posted on a militant website on June 14, 2014, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, appears to show militants from the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State leading away captured soldiers.
    FILE - This image posted on a militant website on June 14, 2014, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, appears to show militants from the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State leading away captured soldiers.
    VOA News

    More than 100 angry relatives of Iraqi soldiers who were abducted by Islamic State militants in June have stormed the country's parliament.

    The crowd, mostly from Iraq's Shi'ite majority, smashed some equipment, assaulted at least two staff members they mistook for lawmakers and were refusing to leave the building, said officials inside.

    "They were ready to bulldoze anyone standing in front of them ... They were saying 'Our sons are buried in the dust. We don't even know their names, and you are sitting here in comfort under the air conditioning','' a parliament employee said.

    "A special force unit came with batons to remove them from the parliament ... I can hear screaming, shouting and name calling,'' the employee added.

    Islamic State fighters captured the soldiers in June at the start of its lightning advance through northern and central Iraq, where it declared an Islamic caliphate and threatened to march on Baghdad.

    The soldiers walked out of their base in Tikrit, north of the capital, believing a truce had been brokered. Instead, Islamic State fighters took them and later reported having killed 1,700 soldiers, posting pictures of corpses online.

    There have been no independent reports on how many died.

    Locals in Tikrit said in June they believed the number was in the hundreds.

    The relatives had been scheduled to address parliament about the fate of their loved ones. But they started to violently protest outside the building and then forced their way inside past several checkpoints, according to parliament employees.

    "They broke into parliament. They roughed up some guards and officials. They broke the equipment (inside the assembly hall),'' said another witness.

    Parliament Speaker Selim al Jabouri indicated he would convene a special session of parliament Wednesday to discuss the issue.

    Some lawmakers fled, leaving briefcases and jackets behind, said one civil servant.

    • Iraqi Shiite militia fighters celebrate the defeat of Islamic State militants in Amerli, Iraq, Sept. 2, 2014.
    • An Iraqi Shiite militia fighter flashes the victory sign, near the wreckage of a tank belonging to Islamic State militants, after breaking a long siege of Amerli by Islamic State militants, Sept. 2, 2014.
    • Triumphant Iraqi Shiite militia fighters celebrate breaking a long siege of Amerli by Islamic State militants, Sept. 2, 2014.
    • Police inspect the site of an attack that killed at least 18 people and wounded about 50 people when two parked car bombs went off in two mainly Shi'ite districts, in Baghdad's Al-Amil district, Sept. 2, 2014.
    • Iraqi Shiite militia fighters hold the Islamic State flag as they celebrate after breaking the siege of Amerli by Islamic State militants, Sept. 1, 2014.


    Fighting continues

    Fighting continued Tuesday as Iraqi helicopters fired on Islamic State militants fleeing a region south of Kirkuk.  Government troops, backed by Kurdish fighters and Shi'ite militiamen, recaptured the town of Suleiman Beg on Monday. The militants had controlled it since June. 

    U.S. warplanes were reported in action near Tel Kaif, helping the advance of Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Iraqi government forces.

    Iraqi military spokesman General Qassem Mohammed Atta says Iraqi Army and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters had forced Islamic State militants to withdraw from a series of towns in the Suleiman Bek region, allowing the reopening of the strategic highway from Kirkuk to Baghdad.

    University of Paris Middle East expert Khattar Abou Diab told VOA the battle to dislodge Islamic State militants is extremely complicated and victory is not assured, given the wily tactics used by the group.

    From a military standpoint, he said, the Islamic State may be trying to trap Iraqi and Peshmerga forces into areas from which they will not be able to withdraw if there is a counter-attack.  He said the militants are very versatile with their fleet of pickup trucks, pulling back when they are cornered, only to return later.

    Abou Diab contends the war against Islamic State fighters “will be difficult to win without a real political solution that would cut it off from a population sympathetic to the group.”

    Charges of ethnic cleansing

    Meanwhile, rights group Amnesty International says Islamic State militants in northern Iraq have carried out "ethnic cleansing on a historic scale" in a bid to wipe out non-Arabs and non-Sunni Muslims.

    A new report Tuesday says the systematic campaign includes mass killings and abductions that have terrorized all of northern Iraq and is fueling sectarian tensions in the region.

    Speaking from the Kurdish-controlled Iraqi city of Irbil, Amnesty’s senior crisis response adviser, Donatella Rovera, told VOA the sweeping advance by Islamic State militants has changed the demographic map of northern Iraq in a horrifying way.

    “The Islamic State has been carrying out a very brutal campaign and has managed in the space of barely a few weeks to remove, ethnically cleanse, the entire minority population, the ethnic and religious minorities, from the areas in northern Iraq that are now under the control of the Islamic State,” said Rovera.

    Amnesty is calling for protection and humanitarian support for Iraq's minorities who have been displaced by months of fighting.

    The report comes a day after the United Nations issued a similar warning about minority persecution at the hands of the Islamic State group. The U.N. Human Rights Council also decided to send a mission to Iraq to investigate abuses.

    Al Pessin contributed to this report from London. Edward Yeranian - from Cairo.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: eusebio manuel vestias from: Portugal
    September 02, 2014 5:58 PM
    International community Stop the War in Iraq

    by: meanbill from: USA
    September 02, 2014 8:42 AM
    Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi follows the strict interpretations of he Prophet Muhammad when he spread his Muslim religion by the sword, and he didn't have a prison camp or place to hold captive enemy troops or non-believers, (and their fate was sealed), they either converted to Islam or were killed (by whatever the Qadi decided), or ENSLAVED..
    .
    A Qadi is an Islamic judge appointed by an Imam, to mete out swift Islamic justice in captured cities, towns, and on the battlefield, (qualifications), that they be free, sane, adult, trustworthy, and a Muslim.. The decision by the Sunni or Shia Muslim Imam or Qadi, is final and irrevocable..
    .
    According to Islamic Law, (concerning prisoners of war).. The decision is left to the Imam or Qadi.. He has the choice either to kill the men (by whatever means), or exchange them for Muslim captives, or ENSLAVE them.. Women and children are not permitted be killed, but must be exchanged for Muslim captives, or ENSLAVED..

    I do believe, that since the Sunni Muslim (ISIL) army is using a Qadi to decide the swift fate of captive Shia Muslim troops and civilians, (it is more than likely), the Shia Muslim Qadi will decide the same type fate swiftly for Sunni Muslim captured troops and civilians?..... (don't you think?)

    by: Lawrence Bush from: Houston, USA
    September 02, 2014 8:05 AM
    The IS does a great job to cleansing the non-Arabs and non-Sunnis in the northern Iraq. The caliphate and the calipha should stand as per this principle. Baghdadi should be well aware of while the world does move and enter into his caliphate to destroy this "hideous state", he and his inhuman perpetrators would not find even the caves to hide themselves like rats. Certainly, such preparations are currently in underway.

    by: Mr A from: New York
    September 02, 2014 5:02 AM
    This is very impressive about amnesty international !!!!. Amnesty international is taking about ethnic cleanses. It has already done for more than a year. There are million killed by ISIS and just now amnesty raises concern . Find other job amnesty international . it is organization marked by double standard.

    by: Anonymous
    September 02, 2014 4:36 AM
    All is member have committed genocide and crime against humanity.If it is proven that one is a menber of is,he should spend the whole of his life in prison.they cover their faces and commits crime never seen before.if tough laws are not make, they will destroy the west.God bless America
    In Response

    by: Sidney Jolly
    September 02, 2014 10:45 AM
    Islamic States is sowing the seeds of it's own destruction. How many non-Sunni soldiers are going to surrender to it, knowing that they will be murdered? And, many non-Sunni young men will take up arms against IS, to defend themselves and their families.

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