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UN rights chief calls for freeing of abducted men and boys near Falluja

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The United Nations human rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, called today for the release of 600 men and boys reportedly abducted by a militia group involved in the recapture of Fallujah from ISIL in June.

Mr. Zeid called on the Iraqi authorities to take immediate action to locate and free the people who were reportedly taken after leaving Saqlawiyah, near Fallujah on 1 June.

Approximately 1,500 men and boys over the age of 14, nearly all belonging to the Albo Akash clan of the al Mahamda Tribe, were held by members of the Kataaib Hezbollah militia after fleeing their village.

Around 900 of the 1,500 men and boys remain unaccounted for.

“This appears to be the worst – but far from the first – such incident involving unofficial militias fighting alongside government forces against ISIL,” the UN human rights chief said, urging the Government of Iraq to take serious action to prevent similar occurrences in future.

“These crimes are not only abhorrent,” Mr. Zeid said, “they are also wholly counterproductive. They give Daesh a propaganda victory, and push people into their arms. They increase the likelihood of a renewed cycle of full-throttle sectarian violence.”

“People who escape from Daesh should be treated with sympathy and respect, not tortured and killed simply on the basis of their gender and where they had the misfortune to be living when Daesh arrived,” he added.

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