Iraq News - Local News - Baghdadpost

Call for investigations after mass grave discovered in Iraq’s Salahaddin province

 Iraqi parliament’s human rights committee on Friday called for an urgent investigation into a newly discovered mass grave in Salahaddin province, in which tens of bodies were reportedly found, some belonging to children. 

Locals on Wednesday uncovered a mass grave in the town of Ishaqi, which according to the commission contains “hundreds” of bodies.

The Salahaddin Clan Council issued a statement the same day confirming the site’s discovery. 

The council’s spokesman Tami al-Majmei said on Saturday that the mass grave “contained the remains of more than 50 people from Salahaddin, including women, and children between 8 and 12 years old.”

He says the presence of women and children is evidence “that militias committed a mass execution of families," referring to units of the IMIS Hashd al-Shaabi that he says control security in the area. 

Rudaw English reached out to the IMIS Hashd al-Shaabi commission for comment on the accusation of their units’ involvement, but was told no one would speak on the matter.

"Between 2016 and 2017, Badr militia, a unit of IMIS Hashd al-Shaabi took control of the Ishaqi area, followed by Saraya al-Salam, the Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr’s unit in the IMIS Hashd al-Shaabi, who still control Ishaqi town to this day," Majmei added, claiming the latter has prevented the families of victims from accessing the site since its discovery.

Saraya al-Salam spokesman Safaa al-Tamimi said that the unit has never held any control of Ishaqi district, denying the unit’s involvement in the matter. He called on the government authorities to investigate the mass grave and take the necessary legal measures against those who perpetrated the crimes.

The IMIS Hashd al-Shaabi was created in 2014 when Sistani issued a fatwa (a religious call to action) urging young Iraqis to take up arms against the ISIS group. Iraq declared the defeat of ISIS in December 2017, months after the group's last major urban stronghold Mosul was liberated by Iraqi forces with US-led coalition air support.

The council spokesman reports that local authorities have alerted the Martyrs Foundation in Baghdad to the presence of the grave, but not received a response. 

On October 17, about 25 armed men wearing official uniforms with the slogans of Asaib Ahl al-Haq, another IMIS Hashd al-Shaabi unit, raided Salahaddin province’s village of al-Farhatiya, arresting a dozen men. Eight were found shot dead the following day, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).