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“All human beings are born free and equal

in dignity and rights.”

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Battle for Mosul: Protection Issues

Thursday, October 6, 2016 - 12:00pm
2255 Rayburn House Office Building


Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for a briefing on human rights and humanitarian concerns related to the upcoming military operation to retake the city of Mosul, Iraq, from the Islamic State.

Sometime during the next several weeks, an assault by U.S.-backed Iraqi forces on Mosul, the largest stronghold of the Islamic State, is expected to take place. But there is growing concern that the operation is moving forward in spite of many unanswered questions about how civilians will be protected during and after the fighting. Rules of engagement to protect civilians during door-to-door searches or air strikes are unclear. Sectarian militia forces being recruited by the Iraqi government have a past record of abusing civilians. Plans are not in place to safely evacuate civilians from the city of 1.5 million, nor to coordinate humanitarian assistance for the hundreds of thousands who may flee. Nor is there a plan to manage factional fighting among anti-ISIL forces, or to govern Mosul, once the Islamic State is defeated.

Prior military operations undertaken since the beginning of 2015, including the retaking of Fallujah last spring, have already displaced tens of thousands of people in Iraq, and caused a humanitarian crisis to which the international community has only been able to respond in part. Panelists will discuss the lessons learned from these prior experiences and offer recommendations that should be taken into account in the planning for Mosul, to mitigate human suffering, prevent atrocities and reduce the risks of further radicalization.

The briefing is open to Members of Congress, congressional staff, the public and the press. For any questions, please contact Kimberly Stanton (for Rep. McGovern) at 202-225-3599 or or Carson Middleton (for Rep. Pitts) at 202-225-2411 or

Hosted by:

James P. McGovern, M.C.
Co-Chairman, TLHRC
Joseph R. Pitts, M.C.
Co-Chairman, TLHRC


Opening Remarks


  • Sahr Muhammedally, Senior Program Manager, MENA and South Asia Program, Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC)  
    Written statement
  • Amanda Catanzano, Senior Director, International Programs Policy and Advocacy, International Rescue Committee (IRC)
    Written statement
  • Elisabeth Koek, Advocacy and Information Advisor, Norwegian Refugee Council  
    Written statement
  • Sarah Margon, Washington Director, Human Rights Watch (HRW)
    Written statement


  • Christopher M. Blanchard, Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs, Congressional Research Service



114th Congress