The Islamic State, also known as ISIS, summarily executed at least 13 people including two boys following a village uprising in October 2016, Human Rights Watch said today. The executions, which are war crimes, took place in the neighboring villages of al-Hud and al-Lazzagah, 50 kilometers south of Mosul, following local attempts to expel ISIS fighters who controlled the villages.
Iraqi security forces should appropriately investigate incidents of alleged war crimes so that those responsible, if in government custody, can be fairly prosecuted, Human Rights Watch said.
“ISIS responded to the village uprising by unlawfully executing people captured in the uprising and civilians who weren’t involved,” said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Security forces who capture ISIS fighters should properly investigate their participation in alleged war crimes like these.”
ISIS captured al-Hud and al-Lazzagah on June 10, 2014. Under ISIS, villagers said they lived in constant fear of punishment, including death, for activities like smoking or using a cell phone. Human Rights Watch spoke to seven residents of the villages, who said that on the morning of October 17, as Iraqi security forces were closing in, about 30 villagers in al-Lazzagah and 15 in al-Hud attacked ISIS forces to clear them from their villages, killing 19 ISIS fighters.
One participant in the uprising, “Ahmed,” 37, an oil worker from al-Lazzagah, told Human Rights Watch that his cousin “Hussein” came to his home along with three men earlier that morning to discuss the planned attack. While Hussein went home to get a gun, Ahmed and the others walked outside. Four ISIS fighters stopped Hussein about 200 meters from Ahmed’s home and started questioning him, and then shot and wounded him. Ahmed said that he and the three others opened fire on the four fighters, killing them.
“Ammar,” 54, an oil worker from al-Lazzagah, said that four men gathered at his house that morning to discuss targeting ISIS fighters from the windows of their homes. The group left at about 11:30 a.m. As an unarmed member, “Mahmoud,” 19, walked toward his home, an ISIS fighter on the street stopped and shot him unprovoked. Ammar said he then pulled out his concealed gun and shot the fighter. Two ISIS fighters ran over to remove the fighter’s body but the villagers opened fire on them, wounding one. Ammar was later wounded in the clashes in another part of the village.
Others involved in the uprising deployed in a cluster of about 10 homes near the main road entering the villages, and fired on incoming ISIS military vehicles. ISIS fighters stormed the houses, most of which were abandoned. A female neighbor said she saw ISIS fighters execute “Faris,” 45, outside his home among the cluster of houses, after they found an Iraqi flag in his possession. He was unarmed and in their custody when they shot him, the neighbor said. Several villagers also saw ISIS fighters execute “Youssef,” another unarmed man they had taken into custody. They found his and Faris’ bodies lying outside. Two villagers involved in the uprising said that Faris and Youssef were not involved in the attack, though their execution would have been unlawful in any case.
The villagers who had fired on ISIS fighters in al-Hud that morning hid in different homes after running out of ammunition. At about 3:30 p.m. more ISIS fighters arrived in al-Hud and started searching for the attackers. Five ISIS fighters went to the home of “Hassan,” 40, a laborer, searched it and took away his brother “Karim,” 33, a former Iraqi soldier who Hassan said participated in the attacks. They also took their neighbor “Hakim.” Hassan said he watched the ISIS fighters execute both men in the middle of the street about 300 meters from his home. Their bodies remained there until the next morning because it was too dangerous to retrieve them.