Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Missing 600 From Anbar’s Saqlawiya Finally Found Dead?

Kataib Hezbollah were accused of various abuses of people fleeing the Fallujah battle in 2016 including the abduction of 643 men and boys (Iraqi News)

An Iraqi official told Al Arabiya that the 643 men and boys who disappeared in 2016 during the battle for Fallujah were discovered dead in a mass grave.

In May 2016, the Iraqi forces surrounded the city of Fallujah in the build-up to liberate the city. Hashd units were deployed to the north in the Saqlawiya area. At the very start of June, that town was assaulted, and around 8,000 civilians fled the fighting. Immediately there were reports of abuses like beatings, kidnappings, harassment, and murder of displaced fleeing Saqlawiya by Kataib Hezbollah. Hundreds of people were detained and some were tortured over accusations that they were Islamic State supporters. That was highlighted by the disappearance of 643 men and boys. The Hezbollah Brigade were reportedly taking revenge for the Islamic State massacre at Camp Speicher in 2014. The Anbar governor officially complained about this incident, and the United Nations human rights chief condemned the abduction. Prime Minister Haider Abadi promised an investigation, and a committee was created, but nothing came of it as happens with all government commissions. As the war continued this was largely forgotten.

While the story in Al Arabiya has not been confirmed yet, it is another reminder of the many crimes carried out by the Iraqi forces. Today protesters are complaining about pro-Iran groups like Kataib Hezbollah. During the war however, they were embraced and their crimes were ignored and excused by apologists. Since they were never punished before they continue with these very same types of acts today.


Adams, Paul, “How Falluja can’t forget,” BBC, 9/6/17

Amnesty International, “643 Iraqi Men Missing for a Whole Year: Where Are They?” 6/11/17
- “Iraq: Authorities must rein in forces amid allegations of torture and deaths in custody,” 6/8/16
- “Iraq: Turning A Blind Eye, the Army of the Popular Mobilization Units,” 1/4/17
- “’Punished For Daesh’s Crimes,’” October 2016

Al Arabiya, “Mass grave containing remains of 643 civilians discovered in Iraq,” 12/15/19

BBC, “IS conflict: Falluja detainees ‘tortured by Shia militias,’” 6/6/16

Daragahi, Borzou, “’All My People Are Gone’ – Inside Iraq’s Largest Mass Abduction,” Buzz Feed, 12/7/16

Hawez, Abdulla, “Iraq’s Shia Militias Accused of War Crimes in Fight Against ISIS,” Daily Beast, 6/8/16

Human Rights Watch, “Iraq: Fallujah Abuses Inquiry Mired in Secrecy,” 7/7/16
- “Iraq: Fallujah Abuses Test Control of Militias,” 6/9/16

Loveluck, Louisa, “Hundreds feared tortured in advance on Fallujah,” Telegraph, 6/6/16

Al Mada, “Anbar will check violations attributed to the crowd .. And coalition forces warn of negative reactions,” 6/5/16
- “The joint forces isolating Fallujah after the liberation of Garma and Nuaimiya on the first day of the start of the operation,” 5/23/16

Mojon, Jean-Marc and Majeed, Safa, “Despair grows in Iraq camps over hundreds of missing men,” Agence France Presse, 6/14/16

Muir, Jim, “Falluja offensive: Final push some way off,” BBC, 6/2/16

Naylor, Hugh, “Iraqis in Fallujah caught in perils between Islamic State and militia fighters,” Washington Post, 6/7/16

Office of the Governor Sohaib Al-Rawi, “Findings of the investigative committee formed by the Government of Anbar province to investigate violation in Saqlawiyyah,” Anbar Governorate, 6/12/16

Parker, Ned and Landay, Jonathan, “Special Report: Massacre reports show U.S. inability to curb militias,” Reuters, 8/23/16

Sotaliraq, “Anbar provincial council demanding accountability by Abadi of popular crowd members involved in violations against the people of Fallujah,” 6/6/16

UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, “Zeid condemns ISIL atrocities in Iraq, urges release of hundreds abducted after fleeing Fallujah,” 7/5/16

Wood, Vincent, “Mass grave containing remains of 643 civilians discovered in Iraq,” The Independent, 12/15/19

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