Following the release of videos on social media that appear to show Iraqi troops killing and beating detained ISIS militants in Mosul, the Iraqi government said they were investigating the footage. A spokesman for Iraq’s defense ministry, Mohammed al-Khudhari, told the Associated Press on Thursday that troops were given “very clear instructions and guidance” to turn over suspected militants, who await interrogation, followed by a court hearing. Any soldiers who violate these instructions, he said, would be tried in military court. Saad Maan, a spokesman for Iraq’s interior ministry, said “a number” of the soldiers who appear in the videos had been suspended. Maan also admitted to reporters that “there might be some misbehavior or inappropriate conduct.”
While the footage has yet to be authenticated, the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch condemned the videos on Thursday for their demonstrations of torture and abuse. “In the final weeks of the battle for west Mosul, the pervasive attitude that I have observed among armed forces has been of momentum, the desire to get the battle wrapped up as quickly as possible, and a collapse of adherences to the laws of war,” Belkis Wille, the organization’s senior Iraq researcher, told the BBC. On Monday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared Mosul recaptured from ISIS following an eight-and-a-half-month offensive in the region. In the wake of the announcement, locals reported seeing “vengeance killings” against suspected ISIS militants.