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Iraq: Turning a blind eye: The arming of the popular mobilization units


Proliferation of arms and ammunition to armed groups and militias across Iraq has had devastating impacts on civilians. It has contributed to a catalogue of gross and systematic human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, and dragged the country into a spiral of insecurity and instability.

The massive leakage of Iraqi military stocks to the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) and the disastrous consequences for civilians have been well documented, including by Amnesty International in a 2015 report.

In the context of the conflict against IS, the predominantly Shi’a paramilitary militias operating under the umbrella of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU)  continue to use a wide range of arms and ammunition to commit or facilitate serious human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law, including war crimes, with total impunity.

This report is based on field research carried out by Amnesty International in northern and central Iraq from June 2014 to November 2016. The research included interviews with dozens of former detainees, witnesses, survivors, and relatives of those killed, detained or missing. To document PMU militia arsenals, Amnesty International commissioned expert analysis of verified photographs and videos featuring PMU militias deploying weapons, drawn from both open and closed sources.