BAGHDAD: The United Nations accused Islamic State fighters in Iraq of executions, rape and forced recruitment of children during a campaign to seize much of northern Iraq, part of a conflict it said has killed almost 5,600 civilians this year.
In a report, the UN 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," it said in its report into months of unrest which culminated in advances by Sunni militants led by the al Qaeda offshoot Islamic State, formerly known as ISIL, across the north of the country.
"ISIL and associated armed groups have also continued to... perpetrate targeted assassinations (of) community, political, and religious leaders, government employees, education professionals, health workers... sexual assault, rape and other forms of sexual violence against women and girls, forced recruitment of children, kidnappings, executions, robberies."
The report, the UN's most comprehensive review of the impact of months of unrest, also accused the Islamic State of wanton destruction and plundering of places of worship and of cultural or historical significance.
"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," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said.
Iraq's Interior Ministry, citing testimony from a survivor, said this week that an investigation had revealed the Islamic State took 510 Shia prisoners from a Mosul prison to nearby farmland and executed all but 17 who managed to flee.
The report also detailed 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.