UK & World News

  • 2 September 2014, 13:35

Islamic State Guilty Of 'Ethnic Cleansing'

Amnesty International has claimed it has damning evidence that Islamic State (IS) fighters are responsible for "systematic ethnic cleansing" in northern Iraq.

The human rights group accused the armed jihadists of "war crimes, including mass summary killings and abductions", with "hair-raising" eyewitness accounts from survivors as its source.

Donatella Rovera, a crisis response adviser for Amnesty, said: "The massacres and abductions being carried out by the Islamic State provide harrowing new evidence that a wave of ethnic cleansing against minorities is sweeping across northern Iraq.

"The Islamic State has transformed rural areas of Sinjar into blood-soaked killing fields in its brutal campaign to obliterate all trace of non-Arabs and non-Sunni Muslims."

The charity's concerns came amid celebrations in Amerli, where Iraqi forces have successfully retaken the town and prompted the withdrawal of IS militants.

The victory marks one of the Iraqi government's biggest achievements in months and prompted widespread celebrations, with fighters firing jubilantly into the air and chanting anti-IS slogans.

In its report, Amnesty described two deadly incidents at the beginning of August when Islamic militants stormed the villages of Qiniyeh and Kocho close to Mount Sinjar.

The organisation has claimed that hundreds of people were killed during the raids, with boys as young as 12 ushered into vehicles by IS fighters, taken away and shot.

One survivor, Salem, hid for 12 days after one of the massacres, unable to walk because of his injuries.

"Some could not move and could not save themselves - they lay there in agony waiting to die. They died a horrible death," he said.

Ms Rovera added: "Instead of aggravating the fighting by turning a blind eye to sectarian militias or arming Shia militias against the Islamic State, Iraq's government should focus on protecting all civilians regardless of their ethnicity or religion.

"The people of northern Iraq deserve to live free from persecution without fearing for their lives at every turn."

Yesterday, the UN's mission to Iraq suggested that 1,420 people had been killed in the fighting last month, with another 1,370 wounded.

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