Qatar fears renewed sectarian violence in Iraq

-Qatari FM al-Thani says ‘atrocities committed in Fallujah and Tikrit’ should not occur in offensive to retake Mosul

Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdurrahman al-Thani has voiced concern over a potential sectarian conflict in Iraq’s northern city of Mosul, as Iraqi forces continued their advance to retake the city from Daesh, reported Anadolu Agency.

Speaking at a joint press conference with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Berlin on Thursday, al-Thani said the Iraqi government should ensure the safety of civilians in Mosul, as forces advanced in one of the most important battlefields against terrorism.

“We want the Iraqi government to guarantee the safety of the civilians there, and not give a chance for any sectarian forces to repeat the same atrocities committed in Fallujah and Tikrit,” he said.

Al-Thani has welcomed the assurances made by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi during an international conference in Paris on Thursday, where he addressed ministers from 20 countries via a video conference call.

Qatar‘s foreign minister said he now expected these assurances to be implemented on the ground, and that the fight against terrorism in Iraq would be carried out without sectarianism.

Iraq’s Shia militias were accused by international human rights organizations for serious human rights violations and extrajudicial executions against Sunni Arabs during operations in recent months to clear Fallujah and Tikrit from Daesh.

“People who have committed these atrocities need to be held accountable, in order to prevent that these atrocities be repeated,” he added.

Earlier this week, Iraqi forces, backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, launched a much-anticipated offensive to retake Mosul – the Daesh’s last stronghold in northern Iraq, which was overrun by the terrorist group in mid-2014.