Reuters reports: Behind black gates and high walls, Iraqi national security agents watch 200 women and children.
Boys and girls play in the yard and then dart inside their trailers, located in a former U.S. military camp and onetime headquarters for Saddam Hussein’s officials in Babel province’s capital Hilla.
The women and children are unwilling guests, rounded up as they fled with their male relatives in October from Jurf al-Sakhr, a bastion of Islamic State, during a Shi’ite militia and military operation to clear the farming community.
Once they were arrested, security forces separated out the men, accusing them of being Islamic State fighters. They have not been heard from since.
Security forces say the women and children are being investigated, but have not been brought to court.
Their status shows how central Iraq’s mixed Shi’ite and Sunni regions are being altered.
As Shi’ite forces push into territories held by Islamic State, many Sunnis have fled for fear of both the Shi’ite-led government and the Sunni jihadists.
Shi’ite leaders insist Islamic State must never be allowed to strike them again, nor return to areas now abandoned.
Shi’ite groups now decide who can stay in a community and who should leave; whose houses should be destroyed and whose can stand. [Continue reading…]