Baghdad probing rights abuses by Iraqi forces
BAGHDAD - Baghdad is investigating allegations of torture and rights abuses meted out by Iraqi security forces to Islamic State prisoners in Mosul, two Iraqi officials said at the Pentagon on Thursday.
A video released online shows men in Iraqi military uniforms beating a bearded detainee, then drag him to the edge of a cliff, throw him off and shoot him and another body at the bottom.
Brigadier General Yahya Rasool, the spokesman for Iraq's Joint Operations Command, said anyone committing rights abuses would be held accountable, but he also suggested the videos may be faked and circulated to distract from the recent victory over IS in Mosul.
"Don't forget that there are those that would like to reduce the joy and the comfort we have from this victory," Rasool said through an interpreter, speaking at an unusual briefing in the Pentagon.
"Maybe these videos are being fabricated and quite frankly we will look into this matter very carefully and we will hold anybody who committed that act severely."
Interior Ministry spokesman Brigadier General Saad Maan said a number of personnel had been suspended.
"There might be some misbehavior or inappropriate conduct by some of the forces, yes. But the investigation is going on," Maan said.
Iraq declared victory over the Islamic State group in Mosul this week after a nearly nine-month battle that ravaged the city and took a heavy toll on residents and security forces.
Human Rights Watch earlier Thursday called on Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to launch investigations of any abuses.
Widespread anger among Iraqi Sunni Arabs -- over issues including abuses by security forces -- helped aid the jihadist resurgence which culminated in the 2014 offensive in which IS seized Mosul.
The Iraqi officials also addressed recent criticisms that security forces -- as well as the US-led coalition -- had failed to do enough to protect civilians during the brutal Mosul offensive.
Rasool said all blame should lie with IS, which fought among a civilian population and routinely used human shields and suicide bombers.
"This organization was the main reason (that) significantly (caused) casualties among civilians," he said through an interpreter, noting that the Iraqi security forces had helped get hundreds of thousands of people to safety.