BAGHDAD: Iraqi Defense Minister Najah al-Shammari says a “third party” is behind shooting at the Iraqi demonstrators, as the smoke canisters used to kill the protesters are not of the type imported by the Baghdad government.
Shammari said on Thursday the range of smoke canisters used by the Iraqi security forces is between 75 and 100 meters, and they are of the conventional type used by all countries in the world to disperse demonstrators.
However, he said, the strange thing is that some protesters have been killed by smoke canisters fired from a distance of 300 meters directly at the people.
“Each one of them weighs three times heavier than the smoke canisters conventionally used,” he added.
“The canisters found by forensic experts in the dead bodies and heads of the protesters have been imported to the country without the knowledge of Iraqi officials,” he said.
These weapons have never been imported by the government and officials of Iraq, he emphasized, adding that it is vague and unclear how they have been imported to the Arab country.
وزير الدفاع نجاح الشمري ان القنابل المسيلة للدموع لم تستوردها اي جهة عراقية وان كل القنابل التي ادت الى مقتل المتظاهرين غير موجود شبيه لها لدى القوات العراقية بل ان حتى اداة الاطلاق والبندقية المستخدمة في الاطلاق غير عراقية ودخلت الى العراق دون علم الحكومة وليس عن طريق الحكومة pic.twitter.com/EZ9nrlDbTr
— sadiq almussawi (@sadiqalmussawi1) November 14, 2019
His comments came after the Amnesty International expressed deep concern over the use of such deadly canisters against civil demonstrators.
Brian Castner, Amnesty International’s senior crisis adviser on arms and military operations, says “the [casualty] photos are almost unshareable. These are truly gruesome deaths.”
“We have never seen these grenades being used in this volume, in this way, or in any sort of civilian protest,” he said.
The Washington Post has also quoted doctors in a Baghdad hospital as saying that these grenades are fired directly at the heads and chests of protesters, smashing skulls and killing at least 31 people on impact.
At the start of October, street protests erupted in several Iraqi cities over unemployment and a lack of basic services. Protests have often turned violent, with security forces opening fire and protesters torching government buildings.
So far, over 300 people including civilians and security forces have been killed in the protests, according to the Iraqi Parliamentary Human Rights Committee.