Foreigners, who have joined the ranks of the ISIS terrorist group, have surrendered in the Iraqi city of Mosul after US-backed forces managed to recapture it earlier this week.
Iraqi security forces aired videos of ISIS foreign militants as they surrendered in the city, reported Reuters.
It is likely that Arab and western intelligence will scramble to obtain any information they have to offer, especially in revealing the location of ISIS cells around the world, how they travel to Syria and Iraq and the fate of their leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Conflicting reports had emerged this week over the death of Baghdadi.
Meanwhile, as the city picks up the pieces after the battle, warnings were issued on Thursday against alleged violations committed by members of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).
Social media sites have circulated videos of the execution of prisoners, suspected to be ISIS members, in images that are reminiscent of the atrocities that the terrorists committed in the city as soon as it captured it in 2014.
Arab tribes in Iraq’s Nineveh province urged Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi to “liberate” Mosul from the Iran-backed PMF. It accused the forces of carrying out kidnappings, arbitrary arrests and the murder of civilians “under the pretext of destroying ISIS.”
Spokesman for the tribes Sheikh Mzahem al-Hweit told Asharq Al-Awsat that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and Quds Force have been setting up offices “left and right” in the city.
They now have some 80 offices that harbor Iranian soldiers and experts, as well as armed members of the PMF, he revealed.
“These offices are committing the most heinous crimes against innocent civilians in Mosul,” he added. On a daily basis, they carry out abductions and arbitrary arrests and torture civilians, he continued.
He also accused them of committing mass murder and displacement, warning that the area will be on the verge of civil war if the violations continued.
“We urge Abadi to launch a new military campaign to liberate Mosul, this time however against these Iranian militias,” declared al-Hweit.
Al-Arabiya satellite channel meanwhile aired a video of the violations. It showed gunmen clad in military uniform as they committed crimes against unarmed civilians. One scene showed the gunmen throwing civilians off building while they are still alive before later shooting them.
Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman Saad Maan said that the video is being inspected, rejecting any violations against any civilian.
In a related development, a high-ranking official in Mosul denied to Asharq Al-Awsat that there was a campaign to expel the families of ISIS militants.
He confirmed that a Mosul judicial council unanimously voted to transfer them to camps outside of the city in order to “rehabilitate” them. This decision has not yet taken effect because it needs to be ratified by the province council.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) condemned the move. It accused Iraqi security forces on Thursday of forcibly relocating at least 170 families of alleged ISIS members to a closed “rehabilitation camp” as a form of collective punishment.
“Iraqi authorities shouldn’t punish entire families because of their relatives’ actions,” said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at HRW. “These abusive acts are war crimes and are sabotaging efforts to promote reconciliation in areas retaken from ISIS.”
Speaking with reporters in Washington, an Iraqi military spokesman said he was not aware of the specific cases but denied that Iraqi forces relocated families by force.
“This topic, we didn’t have precise information about what is going on, however there is no situation or scenario where the Iraqi forces will forcefully get people out of their homes as Iraqi citizens,” Brigadier General Yahya Rasool, a spokesman for the joint operations command, said.
“However, we try to secure safe pathways for them to avoid the battle area,” Rasool added.
The HRW statement said the camp, which Iraqi authorities have described as meant for “rehabilitation”, amounted to a detention center for adults and children who have not been accused of any wrongdoing. Fakih called on the families to be allowed to go where they can live safely.
HRW said forced displacements and arbitrary detentions taking place in Anbar, Babel, Diyala, Salahuddin and Nineveh provinces had affected hundreds of families. It said Iraqi security and military forces had done little to stop the abuses and in some instances participated in them.
On the ground, intermittent clashes still erupted in Mosul despite the liberation of the city.
Deputy chief of the security and defense council in the Nineveh province Hashem Brefkani told Asharq Al-Awsat: “The battle may be over, but some pockets where ISIS members are still present appear from time to time.”
“These members have not turned themselves into the security forces so they are being eliminated,” he explained.
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