A member of the US-trained Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) in western Mosul on May 15. Photo: Ahmad al-Rubaye | AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — As reports emerge of alleged extra-judicial killings in western Mosul, the US-led international coalition has warned that it could curtail weapons to the units it has been backing in the war against the ISIS extremists.
"Well if there are founded allegations — if they are founded to be true — they could very well lead to a curtailment of support to certain groups,” US Army Col Ryan Dillon, the Coalition spokesman told Rudaw on Thursday. "But we'll have to wait and see what happens with these investigations."
Iraqi officials including Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi have been aware of allegations of torture, rape and killings by their forces in the Mosul offensive since at least May, when the interior ministry was directed to open an investigation.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke of the allegations in a phone call to Abadi on Wednesday.
The abuse allegations were directed at many Iraqi units, not least of most the US-trained and supplied Counter-Terrorism Services (CTS). The elite units saw some of the fiercest fighting in the Mosul offensive. According to a recent report by US think tank analyst Michael Knights, their strength peaked at around 12,500 units and is believed to be 7,600 now.
"We spend a lot of time on training on the Laws of Armed Conflict," Dillon added, reiterating that Abadi has also said there is "zero tolerance" for this type of behavior and acts of this kind.
“Any human rights violations at all found to be human rights abuses is concerning and we do not condone them at all,” Dillon told Rudaw.
Mosul was declared liberated 10 days ago, and since then journalists have largely been prohibited from entering the Old City, a site of great destruction where ISIS put up its last military stand.
Dillon describes current ISF operations as “detailed back-clearing.”
"There's still detailed clearance that continues right now. On the surface, it looks like all ISIS fighters’ fighting has stopped. There's not the type of detailed fighting we have seen in the past,” he explained.
He referenced the experience in eastern Mosul, where ISIS attacks continued months after January’s declared liberation, adding that ISIS has often put improvised-explosive devices into drawers and ovens as booby traps.