Harrowing videos have emerged on social media sites that indicate that Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and allied militias have perpetrated human rights abuses against civilians fleeing Daesh rule as the Iraqi government continues its advance on Mosul.
In one such video, a child who had just escaped from Mosul is beaten by ISF soldiers. The child, who names himself as Ihab Muhammad, is asked if he or members of his family are members of Daesh.
— قناة وصال (@Wesal_TV) October 18, 2016
Ihab, who is lying on his back, is beaten after soldiers do not like the explanation he gives. The footage shows the boy screaming in pain before Iraqi soldiers use profane language against him, with one soldier telling him to shut up "or else I will kill you".
In another video, an ISF soldier can be seen brutally beating a prisoner that activists have identified as being another child, though the victim's age is not immediately clear. The ISF soldier can be seen striking the victim with a hammer on the knees and head while other soldiers join in on the abuse.
Mosul human rights abuses long predicted
Analysts and human rights activists have long warned about the risk of ISF and allied Shia militias, particularly from the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), committing abuses against civilians during the Mosul operation, largely Sunni Arabs.
After atrocities committed by Iraqi forces and militias in Fallujah and Tikrit, Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on Baghdad last July to ban "abusive militias" from the operation to recapture Mosul.
Belkis Wille, HRW's senior Iraq researcher, argued that Mosul's "civilians may suffer yet more abuse…if recent lessons from the operations to retake Fallujah, Tikrit and other areas are any guide."
During the battle for Fallujah "Badr Brigades and Hezbollah…and…Iraqi federal police officers, detained and beat men fleeing the fighting, summarily executed and forcibly disappeared others, and mutilated corpses," Wille said.
Last Tuesday, Amnesty International released a scathing report slamming the Iraqi and Kurdish authorities for committing grave violations of human rights against Iraq's Sunni Arab community.
The report gave disturbing accounts of victims being beaten to death as other prisoners were tortured, and concluded by warning that similar abuses may occur in the current operations to recapture Mosul.
The torture and murder of prisoners of war, unarmed civilians and children are breaches of international law that constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Iraqis flee Mosul fighting to war-torn Syria
Thousands of Iraqis fleeing fighting in the offensive against Daesh in Mosul have taken shelter in northeastern Syria in recent days, an official from the Kurdish-led administration in Syria said yesterday.
The displaced, who were Arab and mostly women, children and the elderly, had been crossing the border since the day before the assault began on 17 October and were currently being housed in a refugee camp in the Al-Houl area in Hasaka Province, the official said.
"There are around 5,000 to 6,000 who are already there. Meanwhile there are still around 3,000 who are waiting at the border to cross," Mezkin Ahmed, an adviser to the de facto autonomous administration that controls much of northeast Syria, said.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees said last Monday that as many as 100,000 Iraqis might flee to Syria and Turkey to escape the fighting in Mosul, a city of 1.5 million and the largest controlled by Daesh militants.