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IS 'targets civilians' in Iraq says UN report

At least 15,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed and thousands more injured since January 2014
Baghdad was the worst affected governorate, with 5,490 casualties – 1,481 killed and 4,009 wounded (AFP)

The Islamic State (IS) is deliberately targeting civilians and breaching humanitarian laws in a way that may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and possibly genocide, a UN report has said.

Published on Monday, the report cites “widespread human rights violations and massive displacements” in Iraq where at least 15,000 civilians have been killed by IS between January 2014 and April 2015.

At least a further 30,000 civilians were injured in the same period.

“Deliberately targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure, carrying out attacks heedless of the effects on civilians, and locating fighters among civilians and civilian infrastructure constitute serious violations of international humanitarian law and can constitute war crimes,” the report, titled Protection of Civilians in the Armed Conflict in Iraq, said.

“Those perceived to be opposed to IS ideology or affiliated with the Iraqi government or its security forces have been systematically abducted, killed or targeted in other ways. Journalists, lawyers and doctors have also been specifically targeted.”

Baghdad was the worst affected governorate, with 5,490 casualties – 1,481 killed and 4,009 wounded.

Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Iraq, Jan Kubis, said the report raised “grave concerns”.

“UNAMI continues to have grave concerns for the thousands of civilians subjected to human rights violations on a daily basis, particularly by ISIL,” he said, using an alternative name for IS.

The minority Yazidi group remained a target of IS, and it is thought that up to 3,500 Yazidi, mainly women and children, remain in IS captivity.

Several women reported that while in captivity, young women and girls were taken and raped on a daily basis by ISIL fighters. An elderly woman reported that the young women would come back after some hours or days in a "miserable condition".

The UN is also investigating reports of alleged abuses by Iraqi security forces and affiliated armed groups, including failure to protect civilians during airstrikes and shelling.

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