Guards Massacre Iraqi Prisoners as ISIS Forces Attack Tal Afar
According to prisoners who were incarcerated at the anti-terrorism detention facility in Tal Afar, Iraq, as Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) forces closed on the prison, guards began slaughtering the prisoners in their cells.
"At about 2 a.m., three of the guards came into our cell ... and they opened fire with a machine gun," one survivor alleged in a video aired by CNN.
Amnesty International (AI) released a report on June 27, 2014, stating it had evidence of Shiite militia and government forces committing "extrajudicial executions" of Sunni detainees in Tal Afar, Mosul and Baquba, cities which either fell to Islamic State forces or saw fierce fighting between ISIS and government forces.
"The killings suggest a worrying pattern of reprisal attacks against Sunnis in retaliation for ISIS gains," according to AI senior response advisor Donatella Rovera, who was speaking from northern Iraq.
A video obtained by CNN, confirmed by AI as showing a location of one of the alleged Tal Afar massacres, shows a prison cell containing a pile of men's bodies and the floor slick with blood. The bodies appear to have fallen where they were shot. A woman in a black abaya and printed head scarf brushes flies from a body and explains that it is the body of her brother, had been a prisoner there.
In Mosul, 31 miles from Tal Afar, dozens of bloated, twisted bodies were discovered in a ditch. According to AI, they are believed to be the bodies of prisoners from the Mosul anti-terrorism prison who were executed by their guards before the guards withdrew.
One former prisoner at the Mosul facility told CNN, on the condition of anonymity, that he was detained in a cell with about 80 other men after security forces picked him up eight months earlier. The man, a university student, told about a selection of prisoners.
"The guards were screaming out names. They took 15 of them and handcuffed them together," said the former prisoner.
According to the former prisoner, after ISIS forces started shelling the facility and the prisoners in one cell began chanting "Allahu Akbar," one of the guards tossed a grenade into a cell.
"Thank God, they were busy with the clashes and they didn't have time to go through all the cells," said the man who was later released by the ISIS militants upon the condition that he swear allegiance to them.
Reports of mass executions abound on both sides of the conflict according to AI and Human Rights Watch, which issued a report on June 27, 2014, describing two mass graves discovered in Tikrit allegedly containing the bodies of Iraqi soldiers, police and civilians murdered by ISIS and their allies.
"The analysis suggests ISIS killed between 160 and 190 men in at least two locations between June 11 and 14," according to the report. "The number of victims may well have been much higher, but the difficulty of locating bodies and accessing the area has prevented a full investigation."