Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region has put tight restrictions on the border crossings used by Iraqis fleeing ISIS extremist militants and airstrikes in the northern city of Mosul, raising fears of a humanitarian crisis as some desperate families may be left with nowhere to go.
The Kurdish regional government’s decision to first close the border crossings and then reopen them with restrictions came on the same day Iraq’s security forces went on the offensive, carrying out airstrikes in Mosul and fighting to take back Tikrit from Islamic State of Iraq and Syria fighters, known as ISIS.
Human Rights Watch, citing displaced residents and local activists and journalists, said that ISIS fighters kidnapped at least 40 Shiite Turkmen, dynamited four Shia places of worship, and ransacked homes and farms in two Shia villages just outside Mosul.
“The ISIS rampage is part of a long pattern of attack by armed Sunni extremists on Turkmen and other minorities,” said Letta Tayler, senior terrorism and counterterrorism researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The killing, bombing, and pillaging threatens to displace entire communities, possibly forever.”
Amnesty International said it had gathered evidence pointing to a pattern of “extrajudicial executions” of Sunni detainees by government forces and Shiite militias in Tal Afar, Mosul and Baquba.