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Monday, February 6th, 2023

Soldier wanted dead IS fighter’s head as souvenir

As the battle for eastern Mosul continued in the city?s Tahrir neighborhood on November 16, the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service released footage showing some of its soldiers evacuating women and playing with children from the city?s Left Coast. While the footage itself is said to show Iraqi soldiers peacefully playing with children in the city?s Left Coast, the area was marred by Islamic State mortar attacks in the al-Zahra neighborhood, where at least one child was killed and dozens of others were wounded. There have been significant fears from not only the Iraqi government, but also the country?s Sunni population, and the international human rights community, that Sunni Arab communities in and around Mosul would be at risk of being victimized by the Iraqi military over accusations of support for Islamic State. In this context, such videos aim to dispel such fears in that women and children are shown being treated fairly and with dignity by Iraqi forces. That said, the majority of such concerns of future human rights violations in Mosul and its outer environs have been focused far more on the country?s Iranian-backed Shiite militias, whom Human Rights Watch accused of torturing and in some cases even executing Sunni civilians over perceived support for the Islamic State in a July 2016 report. Credit: Facebook/Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Services via Storyful

A white pick-up truck drags two corpses along Qayyarah’s main road while a man in an Iraqi Federal Police uniform films the spectacle. Picture: HRW

HORRIFIC footage of Iraqis beating, executing and mutilating the bodies of dead Islamic State fighters has emerged.

In a series of videos shot in Qayyarah, 60km south of Mosul, and verified by Human Rights Watch, Iraqi special forces soldiers, civilians and militia can be seen kicking and spitting on the corpses of IS fighters.

In another video, a surrendering IS fighter is shot at close range while two other corpses are dragged behind a car as children beat them with sticks.

According to HRW, at least five dead fighters were subjected to the shocking treatment on October 3.

Qayyarah was regained by Iraqi forces in August this year and Islamic State fighters were trying to take the area back when they were killed in the ensuing gunbattle.

Residents said Iraqi troops and Hashad al-Asha’ri militia fighters from the Maraeed tribe and local to Qayyarah helped repel the attack.

A soldier wearing an Iraqi special forces badge confronts an IS fighter who surrendered just moments before he was executed at close range. Picture: HRWSource:Supplied

The videos was shot by a 24-year-old Maraeed fighter and were given to HRW by a local resident. Other residents confirmed the incident took place while HRW was able to verify the footage was shot in Qayyarah.

In the first video, at least 10 fighters, made up of Iraqi soldiers and local Maraeed fighters, are involved in a battle with Islamic State forces just outside the town.

A soldier can then be seen grabbing a corpse of a militant before kicking it in the head and spitting on it, while another poses for a photo.

The camera passes two other corpses before focusing on a fourth body where a man with a Special Forces badge can be heard asking for a razor so he could keep the head of the IS fighter.

In another video an IS fighter is seen shot at close range after being encircled by Iraqi fighters. A civilian can then be seen stepping on the body before picking it up and dropping it to the ground.

A second video filmed after the battle took place shows a procession of military and civilian vehicles and children dragging the dead fighters by a rope tied around the ankle.

A military vehicle belonging to the Iraqi army is seen following a white pick-up truck that was dragging two corpses in Qayyarah last month. Picture: HRWSource:Supplied

The children kick and beat the corpse while a special forces soldier can be seen kicking the head.

In another video of the same procession men, both in and out of uniform, can be seen in the back of a car with a military licence plate, which is dragging two corpses along the road. A man in an Iraqi Federal Police uniform films the spectacle as it unfolds.

But the horror didn’t end there.

According to residents who spoke to HRW, a man from a neighbouring village, came to watch after he heard one of the dead fighters had killed his father and three uncles.

They claim he was seen in another video beheading the corpse of an IS fighter before cutting out his heart and giving it to his mother.

A dead Islamic State fighter is seen being dragged behind a vehicle which has military numberplates. Picture: HRWSource:Supplied

HRW also examined photos taken from the same day which showed more corpses, some with organs outside their bodies and another stripped naked with children kicking it.

Another was strung up by the leg near the entrance to the Qayyarah football field.

HRW condemned the horrific events and footage and called on the Iraqi government to have more control over its forces.

Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at HRW, said the footage was a serious cause for concern.

“The Iraqi government should control its own forces and hold them accountable if it hopes to claim the moral upper hand in its fight against ISIS,” Ms Fakih said.

“The failure to hold commanders and abusers to account does not bode well for the looming battle inside Mosul.

“Mutilation of corpses is a war crime, as is killing captured combatants or civilians.”

She said the Iraqi government “should not stand idly by while fighters commit atrocities in its name” and called for an investigation and prosecution against those caught committing atrocities in battle.

Human Rights Watch called for an investigation into the disturbing footage. Picture: HRWSource:Supplied