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Amnesty International: Weapons from Balkan countries, Romania included, flow to Iraqi militias

Amnesty International warns arms from at least 16 countries have flowed to paramilitary militias allied to the Iraqi government who have used them to commit serious human rights violations.

A new report by Amnesty International, published on Thursday, says weapons from various countries – including Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania – have ended up in Iraq with mainly Shiite militia groups, which have used the arms to commit serious crimes, balkaninsight.com informs.

Field research and analysis of photographic and video evidence since June 2014 has found that these predominantly Shiite militias, fighting against Islamic State in Iraq alongside Iraqi government troops, have accessed arms produced in at least 16 countries, mainly the US, Russia and European states, the report reveals.

According to Amnesty, so-called Popular Mobilization Units, PMU, which formally joined the Iraqi armed forces in 2016, have used those arms to commit war crimes, undertake revenge attacks and other atrocities against Iraqi Sunnis.

“International arms suppliers, including the USA, European countries, Russia and Iran, must wake up to the fact that all arms transfers to Iraq carry a real risk of ending up in the hands of militia groups with long histories of human rights violations,” said Patrick Wilcken, Researcher on Arms Control and Human Rights at Amnesty.

The London-based rights group recalled that, as of 2015, Iraq was the sixth largest arms importer of heavy weapons in the world.

The report said the PMUs deploy at least 100 types of weapons, ranging from heavy weapons such as tanks and artillery to a variety of small arms, including Kalashnikovs, M-16 automatic rifles, machine guns, handguns and sniper rifles.

Among the identified arms are Croatian handguns and HS Produkt VHS-1 series rifles, Serbian M70 rifles, Romanian PSL precision rifles, as well as RPK type machine guns that were manufactured in the former Yugoslavia, the report reads.

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