Kurdish forces accused of destroying thousands of Arab homes in Iraq
London - Arab Today
Kurdish forces in Iraq have bulldozed, burned and blown up thousands of homes in an attempt to punish civilians for their perceived support for the Daesh, The Telegraph reported Wednesday citing a new report.
Amnesty International said on Wednesday that has found evidence of a "concerted campaign" by the Kurdish Peshmerga to uproot Arab communities from swathes of land seized by Daesh of Iraq and the Levant in the summer of 2014.
With the support of Western air strikes, the Peshmerga have since driven the terror group back into northern Iraq, expanding their control to include ethnically mixed territories they claim as their own.
While some Arab homes were destroyed in the fighting, Amnesty said that many were looted, burned, bulldozed or blown up after the battles ended Peshmerga forces took control.
Amnesty's Senior Crisis Response Advisor Donatella Rovera said the Kurdistan regional government (KRG) forces appear to be spearheading a concerted campaign to forcibly displace Arab communities by destroying entire villages in areas they have recaptured from Daesh in northern Iraq.
The report, based on field investigation in 13 villages and towns, and testimony gathered from more than 100 witnesses, also includes satellite imagery showing large-scale destruction of homes in Nineveh, Kirkuk and Diyala provinces.
The Amnesty report said that in five Arab villages north-east of Sinjar, houses were ransacked and burned by members of a Yezidi militia in January 2015, a month after the Peshmerga had recaptured there area from Daesh. Months later, they were attacked again and Arab houses and fields not destroyed in the first wave of attacks were bulldozed.
While Kurdish families returned swiftly to most of the villages and towns visited by Amnesty’s researchers, the human rights group said that Arabs had been barred from returning. As the winter cold bites, thousands of families have instead been forced to take shelter in camps for the displaced as well as in abandoned or unfinished buildings.
The allegations were echoed last year by Human Rights Watch, which said the peshmerga were barring Arab residents from returning to their homes, confining confined thousands "security zones".
Rovera said that the KRG forces have a duty to bring to justice in fair trials individuals who are suspected of having aided and abetted Daesh crimes. But they must not punish entire communities for crimes perpetrated by some of their members or based on vague, discriminatory and unsubstantiated suspicions that they support Daesh.