(Erbil) – An incident on March 29, 2018, in which government workers removed about 80 bodies from a damaged house, raised suspicions of a cover-up of killings of possible Islamic State (also known as ISIS) suspects, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch observed the episode. Days later, the house had been burned.
Iraqi authorities at the site said they were the remains of ISIS suspects. Heath Ministry and Interior Intelligence Ministry officials at the site said they were not permitted to share information about where the bodies were taken. There has been no indication that the deaths are being investigated.
“Given the serious abuses in the final weeks of the battle against ISIS in Mosul’s Old City, this site and the bodies should have been preserved as potential evidence for forensic investigators,” said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi promised to investigate these possible war crimes, but with no tangible results almost a year later, the actions of his own officials at this site speak louder than words.”
Iraqi forces retook Mosul’s Old City from ISIS in July 2017. Human Rights Watch documented Iraqi forces rounding up ISIS suspects, torturing and then executing them that month near that site. Some of these forces were from an Iraqi army division trained by the United States government. During the same period, four videos on Facebook allegedly filmed in west Mosul also appear to show Iraqi soldiers and federal police beating and extrajudicially killing detainees.