Amnesty chides weapons suppliers for surge in war crimes by Iraq militias

Members of Peace Brigades, a Shiite militia group loyal to Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, heading to Tikrit, where Iraqi troops backed by Shiite fighters and Iranian advisers are fighting extremists, drive off Baghdad, in this March 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)
Updated 06 January 2017
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Amnesty chides weapons suppliers for surge in war crimes by Iraq militias

LONDON: Pro-government Iraqi paramilitaries accused of war crimes are using arms from at least 16 countries, including the US and Iran, according to an Amnesty International report released on Thursday.
The predominantly Shia militias were formed in 2014 to support the Iraqi government in its fight against the Daesh group and have since committed war crimes, Amnesty said.
The Sunni Arab community has been targeted by paramilitaries, which have acted with total impunity in carrying out extrajudicial executions, torture and enforced disappearances, among other crimes.
“International arms suppliers, including the USA, European countries, Russia and Iran, must wake up to the fact that all arms transfers to Iraq carry a real risk of ending up in the hands of militia groups with long histories of human rights violations,” said Patrick Wilcken, an arms control researcher at Amnesty.
The London-based rights group used field research and analysis of photo and video evidence since June 2014 to document the arms used by the paramilitaries, which Amnesty said were manufactured in at least 16 countries.
Tanks, machine guns and sniper rifles were among more than 100 types of arms used by the groups according to Amnesty.
Weaponry has been supplied by Iraqi state institutions or with the authorities’ approval, while militia members have also purchased weapons on the private market including online sales.
Iran was named as a major military sponsor of militias which are accused of serious human rights violations.
Despite the paramilitaries formally becoming part of the Iraqi military last year, Amnesty said its request to the defense ministry for details of accountability mechanisms went unanswered.
“Instead of unequivocally hailing militias as heroes fighting to put an end to Daesh (Islamic State) atrocities, thereby emboldening them, the Iraqi authorities must stop turning a blind eye to systematic abuses that have fed sectarian tensions,” said Wilcken.
Amnesty also called on countries selling arms to Iraq to put measures in place to ensure the weapons are not used by militias guilty of abuses.


US Chargé d’Affaires to Saudi Arabia congratulates King Salman on National Day

Updated 9 min 7 sec ago
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US Chargé d’Affaires to Saudi Arabia congratulates King Salman on National Day

JEDDAH: The US Chargé d’Affaires to Saudi Arabia Christopher Henzel has issued a statement congratulating King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Kingdom’s people on its National Day.
Henzel’s statement read: “On behalf of the United States of America and all my colleagues here at the Embassy and our Consulates General in Jeddah and Dhahran, I extend our congratulations to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, and the people of Saudi Arabia on your national day.
“Our partnership with Saudi Arabia extends from our close security cooperation to our strong relations in business and exchange programs. Together we are working to promote the security and prosperity of both our countries.
“Through our educational and cultural exchange programs we learn from each other and deepen our partnership. Over many decades hundreds of thousands of Saudi and American officials, tourists, business representatives, and students have traveled between our countries and in the process have cemented our strong ties.
“I wish the people of Saudi Arabia success in all their endeavors and look forward to a bright future as our two countries continue to work together.”