Grim footage has emerged from eastern Mosul, supposedly “liberated” from Daesh control late last month,showing members of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and men who appeared to be from the Shia-dominated Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) paramilitary organisation executing unarmed men in the streets.
The footage shows armed Shia militants, who are fighting under the banner of Iraq, dragging a bound and clearly terrified man through the streets. The militants are heard abusing the man, and can be clearly seen beating him as they drag him to his death.
The victim is then placed at gunpoint by two other unarmed men in front of a row of houses, before about a dozen Shia jihadists fighting with the PMF and Iraqi soldiers open fire and gun them down in cold blood.
Even after the men have been shot and are clearly dead, the Iraqi soldiers and Shia militants continue to taunt and curse them, and occasionally other soldiers would walk over to the dead men and beginning firing at their corpses at point blank range. They would also stamp on the heads of the unarmed men, which is a deep sign of disrespect in Arab culture.
“Sadly, we have become accustomed to seeing such violence against people who are likely civilians,” Ahmad Al-Mahmoud, an analyst with the London-based Iraq monitoring group Foreign Relations Bureau of Iraq (FRB), told MEMO. “Even if they are ISIS, they should be tried in transparent and just courts, not shot dead in the middle of the street,” Al-Mahmoud said, using another acronym for the Daesh extremist organisation.
“What separates the Iraqi government from them [Daesh] if they are killing people in the streets?”
Extremist Shia militants fighting within the ISF or as part of the PMF, sanctioned by Baghdad and accepted as a formal branch of the Iraqi military last year, frequently justify their field executions by stating that the men they kill are Daesh militants.
It is unclear if the unarmed men in the video are civilians or Daesh militants. However, under international law, it is a war crime to put people to death without properly conducted due process. As these men formally fight under the authority of the Iraqi government, this could mean that Iraq has violated international human rights law and could be found guilty of crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Daesh strikes back
Although the Iraqi government claimed to have recaptured the entirety of the eastern bank of Mosul, bisected by the Tigris River, the fighting has yet to be concluded.
Security sources confirmed that, two nights ago, Daesh fighters managed to infiltrate the ISF’s positions in east Mosul by conducting an amphibious operation from the western bank, still under their control, and evading detection by the ISF.
The militants crossed the river by using small boats and landed in several sectors, causing disarray in ISF defensive positions. Heavy fighting ensued, leading the ISF to sustain heavy casualties before successfully repelling the attacks, killing an unspecified number of militants and forcing the others to withdraw back across the Tigris.
Daesh also released video footage it claims shows its forces bombarding neighbourhoods in east Mosul. Al Jazeera cited medical sources as confirming that this shelling led to the deaths of six civilians and the wounding of 25 others in what can only be described as indiscriminate fire.
A US and Iran-backed Iraqi operation to recapture Mosul from Daesh began on 17 October 2016, gathering together a force of 100,000 soldiers and militiamen versus around 5,000 Daesh militants. Almost four months later, Iraqi forces may have sustained more than 6,500 fatalities, and have only just managed to gain an insecure level of control over eastern Mosul.