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Amnesty says Shi'ite militias in Iraq have used imported arms "to facilitate the enforced disappearance and abduction of thousands" of Sunnis (file photo).

Amnesty International says paramilitary militias fighting alongside Iraqi armed forces against the Islamic State (IS) group are committing atrocities using weapons provided to the Iraqi military by at least 16 countries -- including the United States, European states, Russia, and Iran.

In a report released on January 5, the London-based group says the predominantly Shi'ite militias have "used those arms to facilitate the enforced disappearance and abduction of thousands of mainly Sunni men and boys, torture, and extrajudicial executions as well as wanton destruction of property."

Amnesty has called on states selling arms to Iraq to put measures in place to ensure the weapons are not used by militias to violate rights.

Iraqi and Western officials have also expressed serious concerns about the government's ability to bring the Shi'ite militias under greater control.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP
Thousands of Yazidi women and girls were abducted, tortured, and sexually abused by Islamic State militants in Iraq in 2014 (file photo).

The closure of a charity providing treatment to traumatized Yazidi women rescued from the extremist Islamic State (IS) group in Iraq is damaging their chances of recovery, the charity's head said on January 4.

The Yazidi-led charity Yazda, based in the Iraqi city of Dohuk, had been providing aid and mental health care since 2014 to Yazidi women and girls who were raped and enslaved by IS.

Yazda's executive director Murad Ismael said its offices were shut down on January 2 by Kurdish authorities who accused the group of being illegally involved in "political activities."

Ismael said the accusations were "baseless" and that many women's lives are now at risk because they can no longer receive psychological treatment for their trauma.

The closure was condemned by Human Rights Watch.

While there are other aid groups in the region, Ismael said survivors felt more comfortable talking to Yazidi counsellors about their experiences.

He said many rescued women would have committed suicide if Yazda's therapists were not there to help.

Thousands of women and girls were abducted, tortured, and sexually abused by IS fighters after the militants rounded up Yazidis around Sinjar in northwest Iraq in 2014.

While some have escaped, as many as 3,500 remain in captivity,

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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