NEW YORK, OCTOBER 14 (RIA Novosti) – Shia Muslim militias are responsible for killings and kidnappings of Sunnis as they fight back against the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group in Iraq, Erin Evers, a researcher of the Human Rights Watch, told RIA Novosti on Tuesday.
“While the world rightly watches Islamic State abuses with horror, these abuses do not justify equally horrific abuses by Shia militias, who are operating in tandem with the Iraqi government,” Evers said.
“Militias including Asa’ib Ahl al-Haqq, the Badr Brigades and Kita’ib Hezbollah claim their fight is against IS, but these militias are kidnapping and killing innocent civilians all over Iraq with utter impunity,” he added.
Iraqi government forces, the Kurdish Peshmerga and Shia militias are backed by US-led airstrikes in a fight against IS militants that have seized vast Sunni-majority areas in Iraq and Syria.
“If the Iraqi government wants to defeat IS, it needs to hold these militias accountable for their crimes and show its Sunni population they don’t have more to lose by fighting IS than fighting Shia militias and government security forces,” Evers added.
US President Barack Obama says IS can be defeated by US-led airstrikes and by bolstering a ground force of Kurds, Iraqis and moderate elements of Syria’s opposition. Critics say Obama lacks reliable allies in Iraq and Syria to successfully implement his plan, and has no strategy for ending Syria’s civil war.
The Asa’ib Ahl al-Haqq Iraqi paramilitary group. It is also known as the Khazali Network, and has over 3,000 followers. According to the Guardian, it is controlled by Iran and operates under the patronage of Iran’s Quds Forces.
The Bard Organization is an Iraqi political party. Before it was known as the Badr Corps or the Bard Brigades, a militant group that participated in Iraqi war. Officially, the group is no longer active as many of the fighters have entered the new Iraqi army after 2003. But local sources say that the militia still operates in Iraq and consists of infantry, armor, artillery, anti-aircraft, and commando units.
The Kita’ib Hezbollah or Hezbollah Battalions is a Shia Iraqi insurgent group, which is thought to be receiving funds, training and logistics from Iran’s Quds Force. It has up to 2,000 fighters.