HRW Accuses Ezidi Fighters in Iraq of Executing Civilians

HRW Accuses Ezidi Fighters in Iraq of Executing Civilians

Fighters from Iraq's Ezidi community, brutally targeted by the Islamic State (ISIS), are accused of executing 52 civilians in apparent revenge killings after capturing territory from the militants, Human Rights Watch said.

"Relatives of victims told Human Rights Watch that on June 4, 2017, Ezidi forces detained and then apparently executed men, women, and children," the US-based rights group said in a report on Wednesday (December 27).

Those killed reportedly came from eight families of the Sunni Al-Bu Metewut tribe who were escaping clashes between ISIS and pro-government militias north of second city Mosul, the group said.

After seizing Iraq's Sinjar area in 2014, ISIS unleashed a brutal campaign against the Ezidis -- dubbed heretics by the militants for their non-Muslim faith -- that the U.N. says could amount to genocide.

Thousands of men from the Kurdish-speaking minority were slaughtered, women and girls abducted as sex slaves and boys sent to military training camps.

Now as ISIS has been forced from all its territory in Iraq -- and the vast bulk of its holdings in neighboring Syria -- concern has grown over reprisal attacks against those who lived under its rule.

"As the ground fighting against [ISIS] winds down in Iraq, state security forces need to turn their focus to preventing retaliation and upholding the rule of law," said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

"Past atrocities against the Ezidis don't give its armed forces a free pass to commit abuses against other groups, whatever their past."

The incident documented by HRW was allegedly carried out by members of an Ezidi militia which was part of the broader Hashed al-Shaabi coalition, ultimately controlled by Iraq's prime minister.