Civilians fleeing west Mosul during military operations to defeat ISIS in the city in March. Photo: AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – UN reporting has found ISIS militants executed at least 741 people in Mosul during the military campaign by Iraqi forces to retake the country's second-largest city. The UN has called for those accused of such crimes to be prosecuted in courts in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region.
“The execution-style killing of civilians, the suffering inflicted on families, and the wanton destruction of property can never be tolerated in any armed conflict, and those responsible must answer for their heinous crimes,” stated UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein.
Hussein's office released a report on Thursday. It is based on direct witness testimony and documents mass abductions, the use of human shields, the intentional shelling of civilian residences, and the indiscriminate targeting of fleeing civilians.
There were “741 people who were executed” according to the report.
The report noted that since 2014, at least 74 mass graves have been discovered in areas previously held by ISIS in Iraq.
“The number of bodies contained in these locations varied greatly, from a few bodies to possibly thousands,” it read.
The military operation for the city began in October 2017 by Iraqi forces and Kurdish Peshmerga. The left bank, or east Mosul, was liberated on February 19. The densely-populated western portion of the city was liberated on July 10.
At least 2,521 civilians were killed during the military operation, mostly as a result of ISIS attacks, the report found. Another 1,673 were wounded. Additionally, as of 26 October 2017, the Civil Defence Corps reported that they had recovered the remains of 1,642 civilians from underneath rubble in Mosul.
The report also called on the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government to ensure that crimes committed in connection with the conflict are “subject to the jurisdiction of national courts and tribunals.”
The UN urged the authorities to hold those responsible for “international crimes” in Mosul.
“Ensuring justice would be vital to the process of rebuilding trust between communities in Iraq, and the key to lasting reconciliation in the country,” added the report.
It recorded 461 civilian deaths in western Mosul as a result of airstrikes in the offensive since February 19.
“In almost all cases, UNAMI/OHCHR could not determine the responsibility for the airstrikes, but the report urged that all civilian casualties in which the international community was involved be thoroughly investigated and the results made public,” read the organization's statement.