Revealing another 400,000 classified US military documents, whistle-blower WikiLeaks has indicated “compelling evidence of war crimes” and a “sectarian cleansing” that led to the mass killing of civilians in Iraq.
The Pentagon has denied the charges but the secret files related to America’s war in Iraq leaked on Friday provide a new picture of how many Iraqi civilians have been killed, a new window on the role that Iran has played in supporting Iraqi militants and many accounts of abuse by Iraqi army and police, according to The New York Times which was provided early access to the papers.
The vast majority of slain civilians were killed by other Iraqis, the documents said and also detailed Iran’s role in supplying Iraqi militia fighters with weapons, including the most lethal type of roadside bomb.
Field reports assert that Iraqi militants travelled to Iran for training as snipers and in using explosives, according to the Times. Iran’s Quds Force urged Iraqi extremists it was working with to kill Iraqi officials, the Times reported.
The Times said that hundreds of reports of beatings, burnings and lashings suggested that “such treatment was not an exception”.
Most abuse cases contained in the new batch of leaks appear to have been ultimately ignored, the paper said.
WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief Julian Assange told CNN on Friday that the new round of field reports shows “compelling evidence of war crimes” committed by forces of the US-led coalition and the Iraqi government.
Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell rebutted the charge. “There is nothing in here which would indicate war crimes. If there were, we would have investigated it a long time ago,” he told CNN.
Assange said the documents contained more than 1,000 reports on the torture or abuse of detainees by Iraqi government forces and that he expects that 40 wrongful death lawsuits will be filed as a result of the new leaks.
He dismissed concerns that the publication of the documents could endanger US troops and Iraqi civilians, asserting that the Pentagon “cannot find a single person that has been harmed” due to WikiLeaks’ previous release of documents related to the US-led war in Afghanistan. —