UN to End in 1 Year its Probe of ISIS Extremists in Iraq

FILE - Kurdish forces patrol al-Hol camp, which houses families of members of the ISIS group in Hasakah province, Syria, on April 19, 2023. I (AP Photo/Baderkhan Ahmad, File)
FILE - Kurdish forces patrol al-Hol camp, which houses families of members of the ISIS group in Hasakah province, Syria, on April 19, 2023. I (AP Photo/Baderkhan Ahmad, File)
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UN to End in 1 Year its Probe of ISIS Extremists in Iraq

FILE - Kurdish forces patrol al-Hol camp, which houses families of members of the ISIS group in Hasakah province, Syria, on April 19, 2023. I (AP Photo/Baderkhan Ahmad, File)
FILE - Kurdish forces patrol al-Hol camp, which houses families of members of the ISIS group in Hasakah province, Syria, on April 19, 2023. I (AP Photo/Baderkhan Ahmad, File)

The Security Council on Friday voted unanimously to end, a year from now, a UN probe into activities of ISIS extremists in Iraq. The vote came at the request of the Iraqi government.

The UK-sponsored resolution noted that Baghdad also asked that UN investigators hand over evidence they have gathered so far to the government, so that Iraqi authorities can pursue ISIS members’ accountability, as well as that of those who assisted and financed “this terrorist organization.”

The Security Council in September 2017 set up the investigative team — also at Iraq’s request — to collect evidence against ISIS members to be used in trials.

The AP quoted Christian Ritscher, the head of the team, telling the council in June that its investigators were compiling evidence on the development and use of chemical weapons by ISIS extremists and advancing their documentation on the militant group’s gender-based violence and crimes against children, Sunni and Shiite Muslims, Christians and Yazidis.

ISIS seized about a third of Iraq in 2014, along with a large swath of territory in Syria, and declared a self-styled caliphate across the area. It was declared defeated in Iraq in 2017 following a three-year battle. However, ISIS sleeper cells continue to stage attacks to this day in both Iraq and Syria.

Britain’s UN Ambassador Barbara Woodward told the council that the UN team has supported the excavation of mass graves, facilitated the return of remains to the families of victims, and worked closely with Iraqi judges and prosecutors, particularly on collecting evidence.

“It has provided survivors, including of sexual and gender-based violence, with opportunities to provide testimony safely with their rights fully respected,” she said. “And it has enabled psychosocial treatment in partnership with Iraq’s Ministry of Health, providing real impact for survivors.”

The resolution asks Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to submit a report by Jan. 15 on recommendations to implement Iraq’s request for evidence obtained by the UN team. The Security Council also asks that the team, with approval of Iraq's government, determine how evidence can be shared with other countries and to inform Baghdad about any evidence already given to third countries.

Woodward said Britain will work with the Iraqi government to continue the UN team's “legacy, both in Iraq and around the world.”

On Wednesday, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nadia Murad, a Yazidi who was taken by ISIS militants and became a sexual slave, and her high-profile human rights lawyer, Amal Clooney, issued a statement highlighting their support for the team's mission and expressing concern that its mandate might not be renewed.

They said in a joint statement that evidence and testimonies gathered by the team “demonstrated the depth" of ISIS brutality — not only against the Yazidis but also against other minorities.

Murad and Clooney appealed for the extension of the team's mandate to preserve evidence for use in future criminal proceedings and to build “Iraq’s capacity in international crimes investigations and prosecutions.”



Israel Bombs Gaza after US Criticizes High Civilian Toll

Palestinians inspect at the site of an Israeli strike on a house, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in the central Gaza Strip, July 16, 2024. REUTERS/Ramadan Abed
Palestinians inspect at the site of an Israeli strike on a house, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in the central Gaza Strip, July 16, 2024. REUTERS/Ramadan Abed
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Israel Bombs Gaza after US Criticizes High Civilian Toll

Palestinians inspect at the site of an Israeli strike on a house, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in the central Gaza Strip, July 16, 2024. REUTERS/Ramadan Abed
Palestinians inspect at the site of an Israeli strike on a house, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in the central Gaza Strip, July 16, 2024. REUTERS/Ramadan Abed

Israel renewed its bombardment of the Gaza Strip Tuesday, after the United States renewed its criticism of its ally over the high civilian casualty toll of the war.

Residents told AFP of Israeli warplanes striking central Gaza and artillery fire hitting the territory's south, while medics said they pulled multiple bodies from the rubble of the latest bombardment.

Hours earlier, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told two top Israeli officials that casualties among Palestinian civilians "still remain unacceptably high".

"We continue to see far too many civilians killed in this conflict," spokesman Matthew Miller said after Blinken meth Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer and National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi.

Washington has been pushing for a truce between Israel and Hamas.

But Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh said Sunday that the group was pulling out of indirect talks for a deal in protest at recent Israeli "massacres", including a massive strike on Sunday that the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said killed at least 92 people.

Haniyeh said Hamas stood ready to return to the indirect talks once Israel "demonstrates seriousness in reaching a ceasefire agreement and a prisoner exchange deal".

After the latest deadly strikes, medics from the Palestinian Red Crescent said they recovered four bodies from a house outside the southern city of Khan Yunis and another from Nuseirat camp in the central Gaza.

The Israeli military said that over the previous 24 hours its air force struck "approximately 40 terror targets" in Gaza. They included "sniping posts, observation posts, Hamas military structures, terror infrastructure, and buildings rigged with explosives".

It said its troops were also continuing targeted raids in the far-southern city of Rafah and in the central Gaza Strip.