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Kurds destroying Arab homes in northern Iraq, Amnesty says

An Amnesty International report has highlighted a campaign by Kurdish forces to destroy Arabs' homes in northern Iraq. The deliberate destruction could constitute a war crime, according to the report.

Kurdish militias' destruction of Arab homes in northern Iraq may amount to a war crime, Amnesty International said in a report published on Wednesday.

"The forced displacement of civilians and the deliberate destruction of homes and property without military justification, may amount to war crimes," the report noted.

Amnesty said it had found evidence of a "concerted campaign" to resettle Arab communities. This could be revenge for what many Kurds believe is some locals' support of "Islamic State" (IS), the report said. It could also part of an attempt to reverse an Arabisation campaign started under former dictator Saddam Hussein when thousands of Kurds were resettled out of the region, the report went on.

IS overran around one third of Iraq in the summer of 2014, but Kurdish peshmerga forces have since pushed back IS fighters in the north. The new ethnically mixed territories include many Arab communities.

"KRG [Kurdistan Regional Government] forces appear to be spearheading a concerted campaign to forcibly displace Arab communities by destroying entire villages in areas they have recaptured from IS in northern Iraq," Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International's senior crisis response advisor, told Reuters news agency.

The report was based on field investigations in 13 villages and towns and testimony from about 100 witnesses in the Nineveh, Kirkuk and Diyala provinces, which were previously under Arab rule, but came under Kurdish control when peshmerga fighters pushed back IS last year.

KRG officials have in the past denied similar charges of forced displacement and destruction.

jh/sms (Reuters, AP)

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