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Shia militiamen 'torturing civilians' near Isil-held city

Officials said the militia had captured about 600 people during fighting in the nearby town of Saqlawiya.

Published: 07th June 2016 08:37 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th June 2016 08:37 AM   |  A+A-

Hundreds of civilians are believed to have been tortured by Shia militiamen advancing towards the Isil-held city of Fallujah in central Iraq, with reports of "broken" corpses being discovered by local authorities.

Officials said the militia had captured about 600 people during fighting in the nearby town of Saqlawiya, along with dozens more who were separated from their families as they fled the area.

A member of Anbar's provincial council, Sheikh Raja al-Issawi, said the men had been taken to the al-Mazraa army base on Sunday night, where they appeared to have been severely tortured by Shia militias involved in the battle to retake Fallujah. Speaking from a nearby hospital, one nurse said his facility had received dozens of severely wounded men, as well as four "broken" corpses.

As Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) militants trap an estimated 50,000 civilians inside central Fallujah, tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers, police officers and Iran-backed Shia militiamen are preparing for a final assault on the largely Sunni city, amid fears of a sectarian bloodbath.

Those civilians who have escaped have run a gauntlet of gunfire from Isil militants desperate to keep as many "human shields" in the city as possible. The nurse said many of the men he had treated had approached the Shia militia in the belief they could offer safety.

Photographs appeared to show at least seven people recovering from their detentions. All are bandaged and bloodied, with several bodies covered in deep welts and bruises. In at least one case, the surface of a man's flesh appeared to have been removed.

Shia militias have been accused of serious abuses against Sunni civilians while helping the Iraqi government regain territory it lost to Isil. Although the militias deny the accusations, the government said they would be held back from the final assault on Fallujah amid fears of sectarian reprisals.

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