ERBIL, Iraq (Reuters) - Iraqi Kurdish authorities on Monday denied that the destruction of Arab homes in areas recaptured from Islamic State was part of a strategic plan.
The comments came in response to a report by Human Rights Watch which said Iraqi Kurdish fighters battling the jihadists in northern Iraq unlawfully destroyed Arab homes in scores of towns and villages in what may amount to a war crime.
“There was no strategic intention” for the destruction of homes, Dindar Zebari, the head of a Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) committee tasked with responding to international reports, told Reuters.
“KRG security forces may destroy a property if there is an assured presence of IEDs, with the destruction of the home being the last possible resort when defusing this explosive device proves too difficult or a large risk to our engineering teams,” he said.
Zebari had responded to the Human Rights Watch report on Sunday, but said he wished to clarify the KRG’s position.
Reporting by John Davison; Editing by Richard Balmforth