Tuesday, October 04, 2005

War crimes by insurgent groups in Iraq

Click image to go to the HRW site We have posted repeatedly on the failure of US and other occupation troops in Iraq to comply with International Humanitarian Law and their largely unreported role in the killing of civillians. However, atrocities are of course being committed by all sides in this multi-dimensional conflict, and today we highlight a new report by Human Rights Watch which documents abuses by various Iraqi insurgent/resistance groups. Groups such as al-Qaida in Iraq and Ansar al-Sunnah have claimed responsibility for attacks in mosques, markets, bus stations and other civilian areas in Iraq. Where the primary target is civillian there is no doubt that these comprise horrific war crimes or acts of terror. However, it is important to remember that there are numerous insugent groups operating in Iraq, not all of which may be engaged in war crimes.

HRW say the disregard for the lives of civilians in the mostly Muslim country is backfiring in terms of popular support for the insurgency elsewhere in the Arab world. "People we have spoken with in the Middle East are increasingly repulsed by the behavior of insurgent groups in Iraq, even if they support a withdrawal of U.S. troops," said Sara Leah Whitson, the region's Human Rights Watch director.

"There are no justifications for targeting civilians, in Iraq or anywhere else," Whitson said. "Armed groups as well as governments must respect the laws of war."

The HRW press release and report are available online.