Human Rights Watch says that an Iraqi army division trained by the United States allegedly executed several dozen men in the final throes of the battle against Daesh in Mosul's Old City.

Iraq's US-backed forces wrested Mosul from Daesh, but at an enormous cost.  Hundreds of civilians have been killed in the fighting, and nearly a million displaced.
Iraq's US-backed forces wrested Mosul from Daesh, but at an enormous cost. Hundreds of civilians have been killed in the fighting, and nearly a million displaced.

A US-trained Iraqi army division allegedly executed several dozen men in the final throes of the battle against Daesh in Mosul's Old City, Human Rights Watch said on Thursday.

The watchdog urged the US government to suspend all support for the 16th Division of the Iraqi army pending an investigation into what it called war crimes, evidence of which was seen by two international observers.

The claims could not be immediately verified as Iraqi authorities have restricted media access to the Old City since Prime Minister Haider al Abadi declared victory over Daesh on July 10. Spokesmen for the Iraqi government and military could not be reached for comment.

Daesh made its last stand in the Old City after nine months of urban warfare with Iraqi forces who are backed by a US-led coalition.

Fighting continued there for several days after victory was declared in mid-July and videos emerged of Iraqi forces beating unarmed men and pushing one off a precipice to his death.

"Given the widespread abuses by Iraqi forces and the government's abysmal record on accountability, the US should take a hard look at its involvement with Iraqi forces," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

Iraq has promised to investigate previous accusations of abuses and hold perpetrators to account.

The observers cited by HRW said they had seen a group of Iraqi soldiers who identified themselves as members of the 16th Division lead four naked men down an alleyway, after which they heard multiple gunshots.

They were told by other soldiers that the four men were Daesh fighters.

As they were leaving the area, one of the observers saw the bodies of a number of naked men lying in a doorway, one of whom appeared to have been handcuffed and had a rope tied around his legs.

"The US military should find out why a force that it trained and supported is committing ghastly war crimes," Whitson said. "US taxpayer dollars should be helping to curtail abuses, not enable them."

Source: TRTWorld and agencies