Published September 27, 2017
A graphic video circulating online purportedly showing Iraqi soldiers in Mosul throwing Islamic State militants to their deaths and then firing at their bodies has sparked an investigation by the Iraqi government and an outcry from human rights groups.
The video posted Wednesday shows two purported militants laying on the ground after being tossed from a building, their bodies twitching as they are sprayed with bullets from the rifles of uniformed men.
It was posted on the Twitter account of an Iraqi man who routinely publishes dispatches from in and around Mosul – a city that was reclaimed from ISIS by Iraqi forces Monday – Human Rights Watch said. The group said it used satellite imagery to verify that the video was recorded in the Mosul area, but it was not immediately clear when it was filmed.
The Iraqi government said it was investigating the video and that if it is authentic, those responsible would be brought to justice, the BBC reported.
"In the final weeks of the battle for west Mosul, the pervasive attitude that I have observed among armed forces has been of momentum, the desire to get the battle wrapped up as quickly as possible, and a collapse of adherences to the laws of war,” Belkis Wille, a senior Iraq researcher at Human Rights Watch, told the BBC.
U.S. Central Command said Monday there are still areas of Mosul that must be cleared of explosive devices and there are possible ISIS fighters in hiding, but Iraqi forces now “firmly” have control of the city.
Witnesses have been reporting to Human Rights Watch an increasing number of torture incidents and killings of suspected ISIS militants in the Mosul area.
"These reports have been met with congratulations from Baghdad on the victory, only further fostering the feeling of impunity among armed forces in Mosul,” Wille told the BBC.
Human Rights Watch said the video of the men being thrown off the building was only one of four posted this week featuring alleged abuses.
In one video posted to Facebook on Tuesday that was viewed by The Associated Press, soldiers are seen shouting at, kicking and beating several men — apparently captured ISIS fighters — in a room. One man's shirt is splattered with fresh blood. Several are dragged out of the room.
"Is this one with Daesh or not?" one soldier is heard saying, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS and shouting at a man cowering in a corner.
Another video posted Tuesday was titled: "Our heroes in the Iraqi Army 16th division executing the remnants of Daesh terrorists in Old Mosul," The Associated Press reported. The images show a man in Iraqi Army fatigues gunning down an unarmed man kneeling in front of a car. The rounds fired raised a cloud of dust into the air. The caption said the video was dedicated to the "families of the martyrs (of the Mosul operation)."
Iraqi forces recaptured Mosul after the city was held by nearly three years by ISIS. The militants were notorious for atrocities, both against civilians and security forces, often hunting down anyone connected with the police or military after they overran territory. The nearly 9-month assault to retake Mosul also involved grinding urban warfare in which the security forces suffered heavy casualities.
Following the announcement of victory in Mosul on Monday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights released a statement warning Iraq that if "human rights challenges" are left unaddressed, they will "likely spark further violence and civilian suffering."
Also Thursday, Human Rights Watch reported that Iraqi security forces forcibly moved dozens of women and children with alleged links to ISIS to a tent camp near Mosul that authorities describe as a "rehabilitation camp."
The camp is located in Bartella, around 12 miles east of Mosul, and houses at least 170 families, mostly women and children from areas of western Mosul, where the last battles against ISIS took place, the group said.
The camp was opened Sunday, following a directive from Mosul's district council that says "so-called ISIS families should be sent to receive psychological and ideological rehabilitation," Human Rights Watch said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.