At attack on October 21, 2016, hit the women’s side of al-Khani mosque in Daquq, 30 kilometers south of Mosul, Iraq, killing at least 13 women and children. The strike on the mosque, filled with mourners observing the Muslim holy month of Moharram, occurred without apparent military targets in the vicinity, residents told Human Rights Watch.
A resident and a police officer told Human Rights Watch that they believed the attack on the mosque, which also wounded at least 45 people, was an airstrike because of the sound of aircraft and scale of destruction. Of the troops fighting for the Iraqi city of Mosul, only United States-led coalition forces in Iraq and the Iraqi air force are known to conduct airstrikes in this region. Media outlets have also reported this as an airstrike, likely carried out by the coalition, but a coalition spokesperson denied that they were responsible for the attack and the civilian casualties.
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After over two grueling years living under the control of the Islamic State (ISIS), Mosul’s1.2 million civilians may suffer yet more abuse when the government tries to retake the city if recent lessons from the operations to retake Fallujah, Tikrit and other areas are any guide. To avoid this scenario, the US, other international forces, and the government in Baghdad should prevent abusive forces from entering Iraq’s second-largest city during and after the military operation.
Just take a look at past operations against the extremist group in Iraq to see why. Most recently, in the May-June battle to retake Fallujah, members of the Badr Brigades and Hezbollah Brigades (two powerful units within the Iraqi government’s Popular Mobilization Forces), and, in at least one instance, Iraqi federal police officers, detained and beat men fleeing the fighting, summarily executed and forcibly disappeared others, and mutilated corpses.
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As the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia comes under renewed scrutiny in the wake of the Gulf nation’s weekend bombing campaign in Yemen, a Reuters exclusive published Monday reveals that the Obama administration approved a $1.3 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia last year despite warnings that it could implicate the U.S. in war crimes.
The Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen on Saturday killed at least 140 people and wounded hundreds more, prompting the U.S. to launch a “review” of its support for the kingdom. On Monday, Reuters reported that the U.S. Department of State had already warned the government that “the United States could be implicated in war crimes” for aiding the campaign.
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