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Iraqis accused of siding with IS targeted for revenge: UN

AFP , Monday 17 Jul 2017
Saddam Salih Ahmed, who was injured when his house was hit by an explosion, sits on his damaged street on the west side of Mosul, Iraq (Photo: AP)

Revenge attacks against Iraqis accused of siding with the Islamic State group in Mosul are on the rise after Iraqi forces recaptured the city, the UN envoy warned Monday.

Jan Kubis told the UN Security Council that he was concerned by a "rising popular sentiment in favor of collective punishment of families perceived to be associated with Daesh."

"Countrywide, Iraqis perceived to have links with Daesh are being increasingly subjected to evictions, confiscation of homes, and other retribution and revenge measures," he said. Daesh is an Arabic acronym for IS.

The United Nations has asked Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to take "urgent steps" to halt the evictions and other vindictive acts.

On July 9, Iraq declared victory in its nine-month military campaign to retake Mosul from the Islamic State, which seized the country's second-largest city in June 2014.

Nearly one million people were displaced during the military operation that left the city in ruins.

Kubis said that the defeat of IS in Mosul "should not conceal the fact that the road ahead is extremely challenging," with the militant group still in control of territory in at least three governorates.

The rise of IS in Mosul is seen as linked to deep-seated resentment among Sunni Muslims against the Shiite majority.

Kubis praised the marjaiya, the supreme council of Iraq's Shiite clerics, who stressed in their victory sermons the need to "remedy the longstanding problems" and warned against resorting to more violence.

Turning to the decision by the Kurdistan region of Iraq to hold a referendum on independence in September, the UN envoy urged both sides to enter into negotiations.

These should address the status of Kirkuk, budgetary issues, oil and revenue sharing, among other areas, said Kubis.

"The absence of a meaningful political dialogue could turn a conflict of interests into a different kind of conflict," he warned.

In a joint statement adopted last week, the Security Council called for a redoubled focus on reconciliation, the safe return of the displaced and accountability for crimes.

The council was meeting for the first time since the recapture of Mosul during which Iraqi forces were backed by the United States and France, two permanent council members.

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