Irbil- In a report published on Thursday, Amnesty International accused Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), known as Hashd al-Sha’abi of committing war crimes and called on examining the role of the Iraqi authorities and foreign countries in helping the group acquire weapons.
Amnesty International said in its report: “The predominantly Shi’ite PMU militias have used their arsenal of weapons to carry out or facilitate a systematic pattern of violations, seemingly as revenge in the wake of ISIS attacks. These include enforced disappearances, extrajudicial executions and other unlawful killings, as well as the torture of thousands of men and boys.”
In the report entitled “Iraq: Turning a blind eye: The arming of the Popular Mobilization Units,” Amnesty said these paramilitary militias have benefited from transfers of arms manufactured in at least 16 countries. The report said the arms include heavy weapons such as tanks and artillery in addition to a wide range of small arms – an eclectic mix including standard-issue Kalashnikov and M-16 automatic rifles, machine guns, handguns and sniper rifles, and armored vehicles produced in China, Europe, Iraq, Iran, Russia and the U.S.
It said: “Paramilitary militias… are using arms from Iraqi military stockpiles, provided by the USA, Europe, Russia and Iran, to commit war crimes, revenge attacks and other atrocities.”
In a related development, Iraqi forces have retaken around 70 percent of eastern Mosul from ISIS militants and expect to reach the river bisecting the city in the coming days, Iraq’s joint operations commander told Reuters on Thursday.
Lieutenant General Talib Shaghati, who is also head of the elite counter-terrorism service (CTS) spearheading the campaign to retake the northern city, said the cooperation of residents was helping them advance against ISIS.
In its 12th week, the offensive has gained momentum since Iraqi forces backed by a U.S.-led coalition renewed their push for the city a week ago, clearing several more eastern districts despite fierce resistance.
Meanwhile, Reuters reported that two car bombs in Baghdad claimed by ISIS killed at least 14 people on Thursday, police and medics said, part of a surge in violence across the capital at a time when U.S.-backed Iraqi forces are trying to drive the militants from Mosul in the north.