More footage has been leaked on social media showing Iraqi soldiers beating and humiliating children who have been attempting to flee the violence caused by the ongoing operation against Mosul.
MEMO has seen several videos that show Iraqi children being beaten and insulted by government forces. Some of these videos feature scenes that are too disturbing to publish.
In one video, the children appear to be around ten years old or younger, and soldiers are seen slapping them around their heads as they lay in the back of a pick-up truck with their hands bound and placed on the ground before them.
Some Iraqi soldiers can be seen taking turns to pose with the children, placing their boots on their backs and the barrels of their assault rifles to their heads.
“This is what happens to them in the end, see?” says one Iraqi soldier who is filming using his mobile phone as another pulls hard on the ear of one of the children. Other soldiers can be heard claiming that the children are Daesh operatives.
Another soldier comes to the children admonishingly waving his finger at them and declaring “The blood of Muslims will not [be in vain],” suggesting that he held these children responsible for Daesh atrocities.
He then appears to get a bottle and starts hitting the child on his head, before other soldiers stop him and say that he should not strike them “on their heads” but raised no complaints when they were being beaten elsewhere.
The torture and murder of prisoners of war, unarmed civilians and children are breaches of international law and constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Crimes against children increasing
This latest footage comes after MEMO broke the story last week of Iraqi soldiers beating children with hammers. Footage clearly shows a defenceless child being viciously beaten by a hammer-wielding soldier while others hit him with other objects.
Another child, who identifies himself as Ihab Muhammad, is beaten after Iraqi troops ask him if he is a Daesh operative and do not like it when he tries to respond and explain why he is there.
After atrocities were committed by Iraqi forces and militias in Tikrit, Fallujah and Ramadi, Human Rights Watch released a report on these abuses and last July called on the Iraqi government to prevent “abusive militias” from the operation to recapture Mosul.
Shia militias operate broadly under the umbrella of the Popular Mobilisation Forces, granted official status by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi last February, and they have also been known to occupy thousands of front line jobs in the Iraqi army.
Amnesty International also warned last week of grave risks of human rights abuses against civilians in the Iraqi-led and US-backed Mosul operation. In a report released concurrently with their warnings, Amnesty documented several gross atrocities committed by Iraqi forces against children.
The operation to recapture Mosul from Daesh militants began on 17 October and is ongoing. Mosul is Daesh’s last urban stronghold in Iraq, and is also the site from which Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi announced the formation of his self-proclaimed caliphate in June 2014.