The United Nations on Thursday said the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has committed mass killings, kidnapped women and girls and used them as sex slaves and employed children as fighters, in systematic violations that may amount to war crimes.
In a report based on nearly 500 interviews, the United Nations also blamed air strikes carried out by the Iraqi government for “significant civilian deaths,” by targeting villages, a school and hospitals in violation of international law.
At least 9,347 civilians had been killed and 17,386 wounded so far in 20014, well over half of them since ISIS began seizing large parts of northern Iraq in early June, the report said.
ISIS forces committed serious and gross human rights abuses “with an apparent systematic and widespread character,” said the report, produced jointly by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
“These include attacks directly targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure, executions and other targeted killings of civilians, abductions, rape and other forms of sexual and physical violence perpetrated against women and children, forced recruitment of children, destruction or desecration of places of religious or cultural significance, wanton destruction and looting of property, and denial of fundamental freedoms,” the report says.
The report accuses ISIS and its “associated militant groups” “intentionally and systematically targeted” ethnic and religious groups including Turkmen, Shabak, Christians, Yezidi, Sabaeans, Kaka’e, Faili Kurds, Arab Shi’a.”
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said: “The array of violations and abuses perpetrated by ISIL and associated armed groups is staggering, and many of their acts may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity.”
“Because of this,” Zeid continued, “I strongly recommend that the Government of Iraq considers acceding to the Rome Statute,” Hussein added.
In one incident on June 12, ISIS executed 1,500 soldiers and security forces from former Camp Speicher military base in Salah al-Din province, the report said.