Human Rights Watch says Iraqi civilians are being caught between the "horrors of ISIL and the brutality of Shia militias".

The rights group accuses government forces, volunteers and Shia fighters of burning and looting dozens of Sunni villages in northeastern Iraq.

Its latest report focuses on the town of Amerli, in the aftermath of an offensive to drive out fighters belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group.

Based on satellite images, video and witness statements, Human Rights Watch says the evidence points to revenge attacks against civilians suspected of collaborating with ISIL, and collective punishment against Sunnis and other minorities based on their sect.

Iraq's Ministry of Defence has blamed ISIL for the destruction.

In a statement it said: "No human rights violations or property damages had been committed ... by either the MOD troops, Shia militias or the peshmerga whether before the liberation of Amerli or after."

So are Iraqi civilians paying the price for sectarian reprisals? And what is being done to protect them?

Presenter: Adrian Finighan


Mowaffak al-Rubaie - Member of the Iraqi parliament representing the Shia National Alliance Coalition.

Ali Khedery - Former special assistant to five US ambassadors to Iraq, who now runs an international strategic advisory firm, Dragoman Partners.

Mike Lyons - Military analyst and Senior Fellow at the Truman National Security Project.

Source: Al Jazeera