Iraq probes execution of 17 civilians by Shia militia

Iraq probes execution of 17 civilians by Shia militia

Sunni politicians concerned at potential for sectarian violence in battle for Fallujah

By Arif Yusuf

BAGHDAD (AA) - An investigation has been launched into the alleged killing of 17 Iraqi civilians by pro-government militiamen in the campaign to retake Fallujah, an official told Anadolu Agency on Sunday.

The city’s mayor, Sadoun Shallan, said: “An investigation is underway into the execution of 17 people from Fallujah.”

On Thursday, a local tribal leader claimed the Shia Muslim Hashd al-Shaabi group had executed 17 civilians by firing squad in al-Karma, a city to the northeast of Fallujah.

Shallan said displaced civilians had been reportedly abused by members of the militia, which is currently participating in the offensive to retake Fallujah from Daesh.

The militia has previously been accused of human rights abuses when it has retaken Sunni Muslim territory and Sunni politicians have voiced concerns that presence of Shia militias could lead to sectarian violence in Fallujah.

In recent days, video showing a Shia militiaman mistreating civilians fleeing Fallujah has surfaced on social media. Shallan said the militiaman shown in the video had been arrested.

“We are working to avoid a repetition of such violations,” he said.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered the arrest of pro-government militiamen accused of committing abuses.

Iraq has suffered from a devastating security vacuum since mid-2014, when Daesh overran northern and western parts of the country.

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