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US trained Iraqi security forces under investigation for alleged abuse

May 24, 2017 at 2:11 pm

Iraqi Army special forces near Daesh held territory [Alex Kühni]

The Iraqi Interior Ministry has ordered an investigation into alleged abuses by Iraqi security forces near Mosul earlier in the campaign to retake the country’s second largest city from Daesh.

American military newspaper Stars and Stripes, citing local media, reported that the abuses being investigated include rape, torture and extrajudicial killings, which were allegedly carried out by the Interior Ministry’s Emergency Response Division. Details of the alleged abuse were also said to have been published this week in the German magazine Spiegel.

The article in the German language newspaper also alleged that the unit was trained and supported by US forces, though it does not indicate US troops took part in the abuses.

Under a law known as the Leahy Act, the US is prohibited from supporting units accused of human rights abuses for which “credible evidence” exists. Officials with the US-led anti-Daesh coalition could not confirm the veracity of the allegations against the Iraqi forces but said the United States does not currently train or equip the Emergency Response Division.

Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi [File photo]

Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi [File photo]

“Any violation of the law of armed conflict would be unacceptable and should be investigated in a transparent manner,” the coalition said in a statement. “Prime Minister [Haider Al-Abadi] has stated that he has a zero-tolerance policy for any improper action by the Iraqi Security Forces and would thoroughly investigate any such allegations.”

According to Stars and Stripes, US Defence Department policies require that Iraqi Security Forces receiving US assistance are strictly vetted to ensure compliance with the Leahy Act and for associations with terrorist organisations or the Iranian government.