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Islamic State Executed 'Unprecedented' 2,070 Iraqis Around Mosul

  • RFE/RL

The Islamic State (IS) group has executed more than 2,000 people in and around the northern Iraqi city of Mosul since seizing it in June 2014, officials said August 7.

They "assassinated in cold blood...2,070 residents of Nineveh for...not cooperating with them," Iraqi Defense Minister Khalid al-Obaidi said in a video posted on the ministry's website.

Parliament speaker Salim al-Jaburi called the mass executions a "historical crime of genocide," while Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi claimed that the killings came in response to IS's recent losses to government forces in Anbar Province.

The names of 2,070 people were posted on a list compiled by the militant group, part of which was displayed on a wall of the local health ministry branch, several Mosul residents said.

The list came with an order from IS, which has administered Mosul since taking over last year, for the ministry staff to deliver death certificates.

Among those listed on the IS order were policemen, former army officers, local officials, lawyers, journalists, doctors, and rights activists. The names show that many women were also executed.

A source at the Health Ministry said the people whose names were listed were accused by IS of "promoting ideas that distort Islam." All lived within the province of Nineveh, of which Mosul is the capital.

"I think my cousin is one of the victims. He was arrested by IS in his house in central Mosul. He used to work for the election committee," said a Mosul resident, who would not give his name for fear of retribution.

"Then we heard nothing.... I think his body must have been buried in a mass grave," he said.

Witnesses and sources at a morgue in Mosul said that most of the executions had occurred over the past six months.

The majority of the victims were killed for common crimes like theft and had been buried earlier, these sources said, but the bodies of journalists and former Iraqi police or soldiers were delivered to the morgue on August 7.

The Civil Movement for Reform rights group said it was "appalled" at the mass executions.

"Daesh hasn't even handed over the bodies; it's an unprecedented and barbaric crime. What happened in Mosul is equivalent to what happened in Speicher. It should be considered a war crime," the group said.

As IS swept through Iraq's Sunni heartland in June of last year, it kidnapped up to 1,700 mostly Shi'ite military recruits at the Speicher base near Tikrit and massacred them by the Tigris River.

That incident played a key role in the mass mobilization of Shi'ite volunteers to fight IS, and is considered one of the worst crimes of the conflict.

IS has made no secret that it executes those refusing to submit to its rule, or who are simply suspected of secretly working against them.

It has carried out many public executions, including by decapitation, firing squad, stoning, and at least in one case, pushing the accused off a high building.

A 35-year-old unemployed resident of western Mosul, who gave his name as Abu Nuri, said he and many fellow residents of Mosul felt abandoned by the Baghdad government and the international community.

"They should speed up operations to liberate Mosul.... Blood is spilt every day this is delayed," he said.

With reporting by Reuters and AFP