As the Iraqi armed forces and allied militias continue their battle to take Fallujah from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS), a growing number of civilians have said that they were tortured after escaping the besieged city.
In one tent in the Amiriyat al-Fallujah camp, which is hosting displaced people from Fallujah, three men claimed to have been tortured while held captive by sectarian militias affiliated with the Popular Mobilisation Forces.
The men, along with their families and many others, fled the al-Azraqiyah area, northwest of Fallujah, as the Iraqi military advanced towards their houses. Although they knew the road to reach the camp was not completely safe, they decided to leave out of fear of what might happen if they stayed.
“We knew that the militias might arrest or even kill us, but we had to leave,” said Abu Muhammad, 57, who asked that his real name not be used. “Staying in the area meant sure death, whereas if we tried to leave, we might have the chance of surviving – or if not us, at least our families.”
Since 2014, a number of sectarian militias, collectively known as the Popular Mobilisation Forces or al-Hashd al-Shaabi, has played a major role in assisting the Iraqi armed forces in the fight against ISIL. But they have also been accused of perpetrating human rights abuses against civilians on sectarian basis.
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