There must be advantages to the US acting as the Shia Air Force in Iraq, but I’m not seeing them.
After all, the president wouldn’t have helped these half-Shia militias, half-death squads retake the city of Tikrit by carrying out bombing attacks on Islamic State targets in the city, unless there was something positive that could come out of it, right?
Maybe the president sees these militia-death squads as a civilizing influence:
“We are very concerned by reports of widespread human rights abuses committed in the course of the military operation in the area around Tikrit,” the rights watchdog’s Donatella Rovera told AFP.
Security forces backed by paramilitary groups and supported by US-led air strikes retook Tikrit from the Islamic State (ISIS) group over the past few days.
Outlying areas in Salaheddin province, which had also been under ISIS control since last year, were retaken gradually over the course of the past month.
The operation – Baghdad’s largest yet against the jihadists – was seen as a test of the Shi’ite-dominated forces’ ability to retake a Sunni area while reining in reprisals against the local population.
“We are investigating reports that scores of residents have been seized early last month and not heard of since, and that residents’ homes and businesses have been blown up or burned down after having been looted by militias,” said Rovera, senior crisis response adviser at Amnesty.
“There have also been reports of summary executions of men who may or may not have been involved in combat but who were killed after having been captured” when not in combat, she said.
Rovera said the latest such report was an incident Wednesday inside Tikrit.
The government and its coalition partners, the United Nations and rights groups have repeatedly stressed that any military victory against ISIS that comes with sectarian-driven abuses would only sow the seeds of future violence.
Pro-government militiamen could be seen looting shops in central Tikrit Wednesday as Iraqi forces sought to consolidate control over the city.
Reports of homes being torched by anti-ISIS fighters have been frequent in the course of the month-long offensive. Such allegations are generally denied by commanders on the ground who say the fires were set off by fleeing jihadists or used by their men as a way of detonating ISIS booby traps.
Torching homes, “summary executions,” looting…sounds like fun — if you’re a Shia thug who enjoys killing Sunnis. The list of massacres by these death sqauds grows longer. Tikrit is but the latest example.
Iraqi Shia militia, who helped recapture Tikrit from Islamic State (IS), are being pulled out of the city amid reports of violence and looting.
The militia made up the vast majority of pro-government forces that retook the city over the past week.
But people in Tikrit say the city’s liberators have since stolen cars and ransacked government buildings.
Tikrit was captured by Islamic State in June last year in what was an important strategic victory for the group.
The city was ravaged by the fighting that followed and now sits largely empty.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has ordered the arrest of anyone caught looting, but reports suggest the actions of the pro-government paramilitaries have gone beyond theft.
A correspondent for Reuters reported seeing an Islamic State fighter surrounded by a mob and stabbed to death, as well as the corpse of another being dragged by a car.
Ahmed al-Kraim, head of the city’s Salahuddin Province council, told the news agency that mobs had burned down “hundreds of houses”.
These Shia volunteers are under the command of Iranian Revolutionary Guards commanders, not the Iraqi government. Baghdad has to negotiate in order to get them to participate in battles. Following the US airstrikes last week, several militia units quit the battle rather than accept help from America.
Meanwhile, the US thinks that the militias are behaving themselves most excellently:
The US-led coalition, whose aircraft played a key role in breaking the back of ISIS resistance in Tikrit, said calls for restraint and respect of the civilian population paid off.
“I think the Iraqi government and the security forces and all those under the command of the security forces know the importance and profile of the issue,” a senior coalition military official told AFP.
“It’s been reinforced again and again down the chain of command, and our information is that that has been a success,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
I’m sure Iran appreciates us running interference for their Sunni death squads in Iraq. Their new found friends are proving to be very useful…idiots.