The army had pledged to help the hundreds of thousands expected to be made homeless by its operation to liberate Mosul from Isil.
But when The Telegraph visited a camp in the town of Tinah, near Qayyarah in northern Iraq, this week it was told by local Iraqi police guarding the site that soldiers had come and loaded the tents on to their trucks and left.
“They were coming from Baghdad, they said they were the rapid response unit,” said one officer who did not wish to be named to protect his identity.
“I begged them not to take them as the refugees here have nothing, but they ignored me and I couldn’t stop them.”
The troops took around 175 of the 200 tents, which were provided by the Iraqi ministry of displacement and migration, and sent them on to the QWest base they share with US troops in the nearby town of Qayyarah.
“Some of the families were thrown out of their tents while they were still in them,” said one refugee at the camp.
“Children were left without homes, again. They have had to move in with others and it is very cramped.”
The troops also took eight Unicef water tanks serving the some 300 families at the site, all of whom have recently fled fighting in their home towns and villages around Isil’s stronghold of Mosul.
Aid agencies said this would be a violation of international humanitarian law, as well as a breach of their duty of care to civilians fleeing warzones.
“Unicef is extremely concerned that some of its humanitarian supplies, namely eight water tanks, eight latrines and eight showers, have been taken from a camp for displaced persons at Tinah,” said Peter Hawkins, Unicef representative in Iraq.
“In a time when so many children and families in Iraq are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance, it is absolutely vital that aid reaches children and families in need and not get diverted.
“Unicef is taking the issue up with the Iraqi authorities.”
The Iraqi government has pledged to do all it could to limit the fallout from the offensive. It did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the tent accusations.
Stephane Dujarric, UN spokesman, said an estimated 200,000 people are expected to be displaced in the first weeks of the offensive to liberate Mosul, growing to as many as one million under a worst-case scenario.
Thousands have fled since the offensive began last Monday.
Several hundred have gone south, while more than 5,000 desperate civilians travelled west to war-torn Syria.