Iraq said on Monday it had made arrests as it investigates allegations that Shi’ite militiamen helping the army retake Fallujah had executed dozens of Sunni Muslim men fleeing the city held by Islamic State.
Iraqi authorities “are following up on the violations and a number of arrests have been made,” government spokesman Saad al-Hadithi said after a regional governor said 49 Sunni men had been executed after surrendering to a Shi’ite faction.
Sohaib al-Rawi, governor of Anbar province where Fallujah is located, said on Sunday that 643 men had gone missing between June 3 and June 5, and “all the surviving detainees were subjected to severe and collective torture by various means.”
The participation of militias in the battle of Fallujah, just west of Baghdad, alongside the Iraqi army had already raised fears of sectarian killings.
Iraq’s Defense Minister Khalid al-Obeidi said four military personnel were arrested after video footage showed them abusing people displaced from Fallujah. He pledged on Twitter to prosecute any serviceman involved in such acts.
“Harassment of IDPs (internally displaced persons) is a betrayal of the sacrifices of our brave forces’ liberation operations to expel Daesh (Islamic State) from Iraq,” he said.