Tuesday, 19 August 2014 12:10

Barrage of Barrel Bombs "still" hitting Iraq's cities

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In pursuing of al-Maliki's war against Iraqi people, especially in the uprising provinces; the current government is raining high explosive barrel bombs on civilians in defiance of international calls that urged to end the conflict in Iraq and to stop the notorious indiscriminate use of barrel bombs and other weapons in populated areas.

 It has documented major new damage sites consistent with barrel bomb impacts on neighborhoods, hospitals and mosques of the cities of Falluja, Garma, Tikrit, Hawija, Jurf Al-Sakhar, Al-Taji and other areas held by opposition armed groups.

Month after month - on daily basis - new barrel bomb attacks on Iraqi civilians, as well as hospitals and mosques; leaving scores dead and injured as well as demolishing civilian areas, that go unpunished by world dominating countries especially U.S, which need to show the same resolve and unanimity it brought to the elsewhere issues of humanitarian aid to call a halt to the deadly attacks on civilians.

Witness statements and video and photographic evidence obtained by Human Rights Watch indicate that government forces have maintained and even increased their bombardment rate of Falluja, Garma and Jurf Al-Sakhar since the beginning of last June, Human Rights Watch identified many distinct damage sites in areas of those cities, including hospitals, mosques and certainly residents' homes and other private property.

A substantial majority of these damaged sites strongly consistent with the detonation of barrel bombs. Barrel bombs, and other high explosive unguided bombs, tend to create larger zones of building destruction than is typically seen with other types of air strikes and artillery fire, often with irregularly shaped blast craters of shallow depth with scalloped edges.

These unguided high explosive bombs are cheaply made, locally produced, and typically constructed from large oil drums, gas cylinders, and water tanks, filled with high explosives and scrap metal to enhance fragmentation, and then dropped from helicopters. The damage to a small number of the identified sites was probably caused by other explosive weapons, either bombs delivered by conventional aircraft or prolonged artillery shelling. There is also strong evidence that government forces on the ground have fired hundreds of mortars and heavy artillery shells during this period, international human rights organization said.

 By using barrel bombs on densely populated areas, forces loyal to Nuri al-Maliki and the designated prime minister Haider Al-Abadi are using means and methods of warfare that do not distinguish between civilians, who are accorded protection under the laws of war, and combatants, making attacks indiscriminate and therefore unlawful.

 Companies and individuals that provide arms, ammunition, or materiel to the current government and sectarian militias, or to Iran-backed terrorist groups that have been implicated in crimes against humanity or war crimes, risk complicity in these crimes, NGOs warned.

 Under international law, providing weapons to forces or armed groups in Iraq knowing that they are likely to be used in the commission of war crimes or crimes against humanity may amount to assisting in the commission of those crimes. Any arms supplier could bear potential criminal liability as an accessory to those crimes and could face prosecution, NGOs said.

“So far, barrel bombs and indiscriminate mortar fire have killed hundreds of Iraqi civilians, most of victims were women and children“, a medical source at Falluja General Hospital said.

Local provincial sources stated that the barrel bombs dropped and random shelling on the civilian areas by the deployed government troops outside Anbar's cities pushed hundreds thousands citizens flee their home.

It is worth mentioning that the pro-government militias " Iran-backed terrorist groups " participate in indiscriminate attacks across the country as well, including mortar attacks, abductions and forced disappearances, decapitated and charred corpses, sectarian revenge killings, extrajudicial executions of prisoners and detainees, forced displacement, car bombings in both Sunni and Shiite areas, all those crimes intensified over the last seven months in uprising provinces, particularly in Baghdad, Babil and Diyala provinces.

An Iraqi political analyst said, regarding the designation of the new prime minister Haider Al-Abadi : "Abadi must change the way that Maliki used to operate and doesn't follow in his footsteps." He added: "Iraqis are optimistic about al-Abadi but they are worried that the new government will still proceeding with the war against Iraqi people - that led to displacement hundreds thousands of unarmed residents - and keep on supporting sectarian militias and the unconstitutional paramilitary groups; if this happens, it will sap the last bit of hope of changing to a better Iraq."

The UN strongly condemned these crimes against civilians in Iraq, and demands Baghdad authorities promptly to full stop indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas to preserve the lives of unarmed residents there, and to allow safe and unhindered humanitarian access for local and international humanitarian agencies and their implementing partners. But al-Maliki's government had deliberately failed to comply with that demand of keeping delivery of humanitarian assistance to the displaced families, that have become homeless and suffered from hard living conditions. It seemed that al-Maliki's successor tends to follow in his footsteps.

amsi.com & agencies.

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