Tuesday, February 7th | 16 Shevat 5783

November 16, 2017 5:03 pm

Kurdish Authorities Detail Serial Human Rights Outrages by Iran-Backed Militias in Northern Iraq

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avatar by Ben Cohen

Kurdish-owned stores in the town of Tuz Khurmatu after they were burned and looted by Iranian-backed Shia forces. Photo: File.

An Iranian-backed Shia militia deliberately drove thousands of Kurdish civilians out of northern Iraq during last month’s military offensive “in order to change the demography of the area,” an official Kurdish report has asserted.

The report from the Council of Ministers of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), a copy of which was shared with The Algemeiner, said that the Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitary organization — an umbrella of several Shia armed groups equipped and financed by Iran — “continues to loot, destroy and burn civilian houses and properties.”

“Other brutal crimes by Hashd al Shaabi include sexual abuse of Kurdish girls and women, kidnapping Kurdish civilians including children, and viciously torturing and killing them,” the report stated.

An email that was also seen by The Algemeiner, sent from a senior Kurdish official to a counterpart at the US State Department, claimed that fighters from Hezbollah, Iran’s terrorist proxy in Lebanon, were among the Shia militias participating in violations targeting Kurds, Yazidis and other minorities. The Kurdish official asked for US help in persuading the United Nations to “dispatch a fact-finding team to collect information on the reported violations.”

Testimony and photographs from several Kurdish towns collected by the KRG during October — when Iraqi government forces and their Iranian-backed allies swept through much of the territory previously liberated from ISIS by the Kurdish Peshmerga — detail hundreds of instances of arrests, beatings and the burning of Kurdish homes and businesses. The Hashd al-Shaabi has also sought to censor the flow of information, closing or destroying several local radio and TV stations, and preventing Kurdish journalists from carrying out reporting.

Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Qods Force of Iran’s IRGC, with Shia fighters in Kurdistan. Photo: File.

More than 166,000 people have been displaced by the onslaught, the KRG report said. It asserted that armed groups currently on the ground like Hashd al-Shaabi and the Qods Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) “strike fear into these communities and will continue to violate the rights of every citizen who does not agree with their principles if they are not expelled from the region.” Gen. Qassem Soleimani — commander of the Qods Force — has been sighted in the Kurdish regions of Iraq on several occasions during the last month and is widely reported to have directed the military operation.

Meanwhile, the KRG praised on Thursday the pending National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which mandates $365 million in US military assistance to the Peshmerga for 2018. The act is expected to pass House and Senate votes during the current legislative session.

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