HRW: more ISIS execution sites found in Iraq
New evidence unveiled three more mass execution sites, bringing the total number of those killed to at least 770 people mainly captured Iraqi army soldiers by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria when it seized Tikrit city, a leading international watchdog reported Wednesday.
“Another piece of this gruesome puzzle has come into place, with many more executions now confirmed,” said Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director at Human Rights Watch.
Bouckaert added: “The barbarity of the Islamic State violates the law and grossly offends the conscience.”
The incident at Camp Speicher, an air base that previously served as a U.S. military facility, was one of the worst atrocities perpetrated by ISIS as it seized large swaths of northern and western Iraq.
Ali, a 23-year-old survivor of one of the shootings, told HRW that he was captured on June 12 with thousands of other men as they sought to flee along the main road from Spiecher military base.
Other soldiers and officers had advised him to wear civilian clothes to try to avoid detection by ISIS militants.
“These are horrific and massive abuses, atrocities by the Islamic State, and on a scale that clearly rises to the crimes against humanity,” Fred Abrahams, special adviser to group, told journalists in the northern city of Irbil.
The al-Qaeda-breakaway claimed in mid-June that it “executed” about 1,700 soldiers and military personnel from Camp Speicher.
The group also posted graphic photos that appeared to show its gunmen massacring scores of Iraqi soldiers after loading the captives onto flatbed trucks and then forcing them to lie face-down in a shallow ditch, their arms tied behind their backs.
After the incident, the soldiers were listed as missing, prompting their families to stage demonstrations in Baghdad in an effort to pressure authorities for word on their sons’ fate. On Tuesday, dozens of angry family members stormed into the parliament in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone after scuffling with security guards. They forced the speaker to call a session Wednesday on the missing soldiers.
Human Rights Watch said in late June that analysis of photos and satellite images showed that between 160 and 190 men were killed in at least two locations between June 11 and 14.