Iraqi official: US forces violated law in overnight arrests
The Iraqi governor of the restive city of Mosul said Friday that US forces raided a neighborhood there, arresting dozens of locals in what he said was a politically motivated sweep and a violation of the law, DPA reported.
Ethel Nujaifi, governor of Iraq's Nineveh Province, in which Mosul is located, told the Germany Press Agency dpa that US military forces carried out the sweep on Thursday night in the city's north-west neighbourhood of Zammar.
He said the raid was contrary to democracy and a transgression of the law.
Based on the Withdrawal of the American Forces from Iraq Agreement, which saw US troop levels drop to 50,000, all US military operations conducted in Iraq must be done with the permission of the government of Iraq.
The agreement states that the United States is not permitted to detain or arrest any Iraqi unless it is done in agreement with the Iraqi government and that US forces must turn over arrested persons to Iraqi authorities within 24 hours of their detention or arrest.
But according to Nujaifi, Thursday's raid, which took place some 400 kilometres north of Baghdad, was carried out solely by US troops with no accompanying Iraqi forces.
The Iraqi government in Baghdad has yet to confirm whether it ordered or approved of the raid.
For its part, the US military in Iraq neither confirmed nor denied any details regarding the Mosul sweep and said it had "nothing to add," when asked by the dpa.
Nujaifi suggested that the raid was politically motivated because it targeted tribesmen, imams of local mosques and figures opposed to the Iraqi general census, which is considered to be a map of Iraq's ethnic makeup.
"We are calling on the Iraqi government to postpone the general census for the time being until the formation of an elected government has taken place, or else this will lead to the disruption of the province," said Nujaifi.
More than five months have passed since Iraqis went to the polls in March, but talks among the main political parties remain in disarray amid mutual accusations of sectarianism and disagreement over who should head the new government.
Despite the lag in forming a government, Iraq's planning minister has vowed that the general population census would be carried out as scheduled for October 24.
The census, which last took place over two decades ago, was previously postponed for a year due to concerns that it would fuel sectarian and ethnic tensions in contested areas in the northern cities of Kirkuk and Mosul.
Opponents of the census fear that its numbers could be politicized in areas where there are Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen residing.
There was more violence in Mosul Thursday, with three people killed and one wounded from al-Qaeda attacks, said Iraqi police.