An Iraqi policeman collects himself as he is surrounded by bodies found in a mass grave in an area retaken from Daesh in Hamam al-Alil, March 15, 2017. (Photo by AP)
A senior Iraqi military
official has rejected as “baseless” an Amnesty International
report accusing government forces of human rights violations during the months-long battle to liberate Mosul
from Daesh terrorists.
The Amnesty released a report on Tuesday, saying, “Iraqi government and US-led coalition forces appear to have committed repeated violations of international humanitarian law, some of which may amount to war crimes.”
Mosul’s liberation operation officially came to an end on Monday, with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declaring victory in the city, three years after it fell to Daesh.
’s Joint Operations Command (JOC) spokesman Brigadier General Yahya Rasool defended on Wednesday the performance of Iraqi armed forces during the liberation operation, saying the Amnesty report is baseless, and does not reflect the realities on the ground in Mosul.
He said the Iraqi army used light and medium arms during the offensive in Mosul, and was careful in using heavy weaponry for fear of civilian lives.
During their advances, Iraqi forces would discover mutilated bodies scattered on the streets of Mosul, said the commander, stressing that they were appalled by the disturbing scenes in the city, which once served as Daesh’s main stronghold in the country.
Amnesty’s report further said during the part of the fight aimed at freeing the city’s western side, civilians were “subjected to relentless and unlawful attacks by Iraqi government forces and members of the US-led coalition. Residents of west Mosul count themselves lucky if they escape with their lives.”
An Iraqi woman carries a child as she sits resting, while fleeing from the Old City of Mosul on July 5, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
The report cited the Airwars monitoring group as saying that “between 19 February and 19 June 2017, attacks launched by Iraqi and coalition forces may have caused the deaths of as many as 5,805 civilians.”
It said the figure might even amount to an underestimation as it has been difficult for monitors to record deaths and injuries due to the intensity of the fighting and Daesh’s ban on the use of mobile phones in areas under its control.
Over all, the Amnesty said, the anti-terror fight generated a “civilian catastrophe.”
Also reacting to the accusations, Col. Joe Scrocca, a coalition spokesman, described the report as “irresponsible” and said, “War is not pleasant, and pretending that it should be is foolish and places the lives of civilians and soldiers alike at risk.”
The Washington-led alliance launched its aerial military campaign in Iraq in June 2014.
The coalition has, time and again, been accused of disregard for civilian lives during the campaign.
In another part of its report, the rights group accused the Daesh terrorists of flagrantly violating international humanitarian law by deliberately putting civilian lives at risk and using them as shields to protect the militants and impede the advance of Iraqi and coalition forces.