U.N. accuses Islamic State of executions, rape, child abuse in Iraq

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U.N. accuses Islamic State of executions, rape, child abuse in Iraq
This image taken with a mobile phone camera shows people passing a black flag used by Islamic militants and a police cruiser belonging to the Islamic State group in front of the provincial government headquarters in Mosul, 225 miles (360 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, July 15, 2014. The panic that initially gripped Iraq after Sunni militants led by the Islamic State extremist group seized the country's second-largest city, Mosul, and swept across northern and western Iraq has largely subsided.(AP Photo)
This image taken with a mobile phone through a car windshield shows a fighter with the Islamic State group taking control of a traffic intersection in central Mosul, 225 miles (360 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, July 15, 2014. The panic that initially gripped Iraq after Sunni militants led by the Islamic State extremist group seized the country's second-largest city, Mosul, and swept across northern and western Iraq has largely subsided.(AP Photo)
In this June 16, 2014 photo, demonstrators chant pro-Islamic State group slogans as they carry the group's flags in front of the provincial government headquarters in Mosul, 225 miles (360 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad. Flush with cash the the Islamic State fix roads, police traffic, administer courts, and have even set up an export system of smuggled crude from oil fields they control. (AP Photo, File)
In this Friday, July 11, 2014 photo, an Islamic militant speaks to people during a celebration of their declaration of an Islamic state at a mosque in Fallujah, 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq. Sunni militants seized control of the Anbar city of Fallujah, and parts of Ramadi in January. The government has since reasserted its control of Ramadi, but Fallujah remains in insurgent hands. (AP Photo)
In this Tuesday, July 8, 2014 photo, an Iraqi refugee man who left his hometown of Mosul walks towards Irbil as he crosses a berm that separates Kurdish fighters and militants of the Islamic State group outside the northern city of Mosul, Iraq. It has been nearly a month since Islamic militants took over the country's second largest city. The lightning sweep by the insurgents over much of northern and western Iraq the past month has dramatically hiked tensions between the country's Shiite majority and Sunni minority. At the same time, splits have grown between the Shiite-led government in Baghdad and the Kurdish autonomy region in the north. (AP Photo)
In this undated photo posted on a militant website that frequently carries official statements from the Islamic State extremist group, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, Shiite's Saad bin Aqeel Husseiniya shrine explodes in Tal Afar, Iraq. Images posted online show that Islamic extremists have destroyed at least 10 ancient shrines and Shiite mosques in territory - the city of Mosul and the town of Tal Afar - they have seized in northern Iraq in recent weeks. (AP Photo)
In this undated photo posted on a militant website that frequently carries official statements from the Islamic State extremist group, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, smoke and debris go up in the air as Shiite's Al-Qubba Husseiniya mosque explodes in Mosul, Iraq. Images posted online show that Islamic extremists have destroyed at least 10 ancient shrines and Shiite mosques in territory - the city of Mosul and the town of Tal Afar - they have seized in northern Iraq in recent weeks. (AP Photo)
In this undated photo posted on a militant website that frequently carries official statements from the Islamic State extremist group, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, a bulldozer destroys a monument called "The girl's tomb" in Mosul, Iraq. Images posted online show that Islamic extremists have destroyed at least 10 ancient shrines and Shiite mosques in territory - the city of Mosul and the town of Tal Afar - they have seized in northern Iraq in recent weeks. (AP Photo)
This image made from undated video posted during the weekend of June 28, 2014 on a social media account frequently used for communications by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows Omar al-Shishani standing next to the group's spokesman among a group of fighters as they declare the elimination of the border between Iraq and Syria. Al-Shishani, one of hundreds of Chechens who have been among the toughest jihadi fighters in Syria, has emerged as the face of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, appearing frequently in its online videos — in contrast to the group's Iraqi leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who remains deep in hiding and has hardly ever been photographed. (AP Photo/militant social media account via AP video)
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BY MAGGIE FICK

(Reuters) - The United Nations accused Islamic State fighters inIraq of executing religious and other leaders as well as teachers and health workers, forcibly recruiting children and raping women among acts that amounted to war crimes.

A UN report focused on a range of violations committed against civilians, particularly by the Islamic State, though it also said Iraqi forces and allied fighters had not taken precautions to protect civilians from violence.

"(This)...may also amount to war crimes," the report found.

At least 5,576 Iraqi civilians have been killed this year in violence, the U.N. said in the most detailed account yet of the impact of months of unrest culminating in advances by Sunni militants led by the al Qaeda offshoot Islamic State, formerly known as ISIL, across the north.

"ISIL and associated armed groups have also continued to... perpetrate targeted assassinations (community, political, and religious leaders, government employees, education professionals, health workers, etc.), sexual assault, rape and other forms of sexual violence against women and girls, forced recruitment of children, kidnappings, executions, robberies."

The report also accused them of wanton destruction and plundering of places of worship and of cultural or historical significance.

"Credible information on recruitment and use of children as soldiers was also received," the report noted.

"Every day we receive accounts of a terrible litany of human rights violations being committed in Iraq against ordinary Iraqi children, women and men, who have been deprived of their security, their livelihoods, their homes, education, healthcare and other basic services," U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said.

The report also details violations committed by government forces and affiliated groups, citing "summary executions/extrajudicial killings of prisoners and detainees", which it said may constitute a war crime.

The Iraqi Interior Ministry said this week that an investigation had revealed the Islamic State had taken 510 Shi'ite prisoners from a prison in Mosul to an agricultural area and executed them - killing all but 17 who managed to flee.

The ministry said the its report was based on testimony of one of the prisoners who fled.

GOVERNMENT HAMSTRUNG

Of the 2,400 people killed in June, 1,531 were civilians, the U.N. said earlier this month.

The report called on the government to investigate serious violations and to hold the perpetrators to account.

But the capacity of the Shi'ite-led caretaker government to do so in the face of a Sunni uprising that threatens to fracture the country on sectarian and ethnic lines may be limited.

Iraqi politicians have yet to complete the formation of a new government more than three months after parliamentary elections. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki faces pressure from Sunnis, Kurds and some Shi'ites to step aside after two terms in office in which his critics say he marginalized opponents.

The bruised Iraqi army has leaned heavily on Shi'ite militia and volunteers in its battle against the Sunni insurgency. A Shi'ite lawmaker said militia fighters carried out "a lot of assassinations and killings" when first deployed last month, although he said the situation had improved subsequently.

The U.N. noted that the "deteriorating security situation" had limited its ability to directly monitor and verify incidents. More than 1.2 million people had been displaced this year, according to the report.

(Reporting By Maggie Fick; editing by Ralph Boulton)

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