UN: ISIS and govt forces guilty of atrocities in Iraq

A militant Islamist fighter gestures as he takes part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province (Reuters)

A militant Islamist fighter gestures as he takes part in a military parade along the streets of Syria’s northern Raqqa province (Reuters)

Islamic State militants have carried out atrocities on “an unimaginable scale” over several months of fighting in Iraq, a UN official said in an emergency debate Monday. The UN agreed to send a commission to the country to investigate.

The UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Flavia Pansieri, who opened the debate in Geneva, said there is “strong evidence” that Islamic State (IS), formerly known as ISIS, groups have carried out numerous atrocities including killings, beheadings, torture, sexual abuse and conversions.

The reports we have received reveal acts of inhumanity on an unimaginable scale. Systematic and intentional attacks on civilians may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity. Individuals, including commanders, are responsible for these acts,” she said.

Pansieri added that she was particularly concerned with the persecution of Iraq’s religious minorities including the Shia, Yazidis, Christians and Turkmen.

These communities have lived side by side, on the same soil, for centuries and in some cases for millennia,” she said, adding that IS has carried out ethnic and religious cleaning.

<img src="http://rt.com/files/news/2d/01/00/00/yazidis.jpg" alt="Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect who fled the …read more

NATO summit: Obama, Cameron urge allies to ramp up military spending

Prime Minister David Cameron will urge NATO members to bolster their military spending at this year's summit. (Reuters / Luke MacGregor)

Prime Minister David Cameron will urge NATO members to bolster their military spending at this year’s summit. (Reuters / Luke MacGregor)

Barack Obama and David Cameron will urge NATO members to increase military spending at the alliance’s summit in Wales, amid growing geopolitical tensions, Europe-wide austerity, and criticism that some countries are getting a “free ride”.

The NATO summit, which kicks off later this week, will see Obama and Cameron urge European state leaders to protect their continent from amplifying threats by honoring commitments to allocate a minimum of 2 percent of GDP on defense spending. NATO members attending the two-day summit in Newport will also debate how best to deal with the ongoing crises in Iraq and Ukraine.

While the White House has insisted increased military spending is a “top priority”, many diplomats believe the US administration’s plea will be rejected by EU states that are still suffering from the ravages of a deep recession. At present, only two NATO members have reached the 2 percent target other than the US and Britain.

A group of former military commanders said on Saturday that NATO states must take responsibility for their share of the military cost of sustaining the alliance. A former head …read more