By Ibrahim Salih
BAGHDAD (AA) - Sunni lawmakers have accused pro-government Shia militias of executing children in Iraq’s western Anbar province.
In a Monday statement, the Al-Arabiya coalition alleged that members of the Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militia had executed 17 civilians -- including children less than 10 years old -- during an ongoing offensive aimed at retaking the western city of Fallujah from the Daesh terrorist group.
"Militiamen have committed crimes of murder and torture against civilians," the coalition statement read.
According to the statement, 17 civilians from Fallujah were executed by militiamen, including children under 10, in the city’s northern Al-Saqlawya district.
The coalition, which holds nine seats on Iraq’s 328-member parliament, said another 73 civilians had been abducted after attempting to flee from Daesh-held areas.
The coalition went on to accuse the pro-government Shia militia of "infiltrating police forces and committing grave sectarian practices".
On Sunday, Fallujah Mayor Sadoun Shallan told Anadolu Agency that the Iraqi authorities had begun an investigation into reports that 17 civilians had been executed by Shia militiamen.
The move came shortly after a video purportedly showing a Shia militiaman mistreating civilians fleeing Fallujah surfaced on social media websites.
The militia has previously been accused of committing human rights abuses while retaking Sunni-Muslim territory, with Sunni politicians voicing concern that the presence of Shia militias could serve to stoke sectarian violence in Fallujah.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered the arrest of pro-government militiamen accused of committing abuses against civilians.
Iraq has suffered from a devastating security vacuum since mid-2014, when Daesh overran northern and western parts of the country.