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Jan 29, 2015 5:51 AM

Rights group blasts IS for atrocities, Iraq, Syria policies

The Associated Press

BEIRUT (AP) Human Rights Watch on Thursday blasted Islamic State militants over their atrocities, but also criticized the Syrian and Iraqi governments over what the New York-based group described as "sectarian and abusive" policies that fuel extremism.

The criticism came in a 656-page annual report released in Beirut that reviews human rights practices in more than 90 countries.

In it, HRW said the Islamic State group spreading terror in the Middle East is in part a product of the U.S.-led war and military occupation of Iraq, and the abuses of detainees in Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison and other U.S.-run detention centers.

Funding of extremist groups by Gulf states and their citizens also played a role in fuelling militancy across the volatile region, HRW said.

"Rarely has an armed force engendered such widespread revulsion and opposition," the group's World Report 2015 said of the Islamic State group. "Yet ISIS did not emerge in a vacuum," it added, using an older acronym for the IS.

Human Rights Watch also accused the U.S. and its allies of allowing their military action the U.S.-led alliance has been bombing Islamic State targets since last year against the IS to overshadow efforts to push Syrian President Bashar Assad's government to end its own abuses.

"This selective concern allows ISIS recruiters to portray themselves to potential supporters as the only force willing to stand up to Assad's atrocities," the report said.

The United States and several Arab allies have been striking the Islamic State in Syria since Sept. 23, and U.S. and other international warplanes have been waging an air campaign against the extremists in Iraq for even longer.

The campaign aims to push back the jihadi organization after it took over much of Iraq and Syria and declared a "caliphate" in July.

The report also accuses the Iraqi government of relying in the battle against IS extremists primarily on Shiite militias who are killing and cleansing Iraqi areas of Sunni civilians with impunity.

HRW also accuses the international community of indifference to the violations by both governments.

"If the conditions that led to ISIS are left to fester, the group could deepen its hold on the two countries and expand into Lebanon, Jordan, Libya and beyond," the report warned.


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