1 of 4 | Iraqi government forces drive on a road near the city of Fallujah, Iraq, on Monday, during an operation to regain control of the area from the Islamic State group. Iraqi forces launched a vast offensive aimed at retaking the terror group's bastion of Fallujah, a city 30 miles west of Baghdad. Photo by Karrar Hazem/UPI | License Photo
BAGHDAD, June 7 (UPI) -- The United Nations has warned against sectarian violence in Iraq after accusations Shiite militias tortured captured civilians fleeing the besieged Fallujah.
The Iraqi government has been urged to investigate whether Shiite militias committed torture that reportedly led to the deaths of at least four people. BBC News reported others are in critical conditions in local hospitals.
About 600 civilians are believed to have been held as Iraqi government forces fought against the Islamic State in the Fallujah suburb of Saqlawiya. Shiite militias have previously been accused of committing abuses against Sunni civilians while helping the Iraqi government fight the mostly Sunni Islamic State, also known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh.
"They've intended to kill us. They accused us of being Daesh. I have nothing to do with Daesh," a civilian said in a video.
The militias have denied the accusations.
The battle for Fallujah was expected to be complicated as it is mainly inhabited by Sunnis, many of whom are suspicious of the involvement of Shiite militias including the Popular Mobilization Forces umbrella group. Iraqi security forces and allies began efforts to retake Fallujah months ago by isolating the city through the recapture of surrounding areas.
"The people of Fallujah have suffered immensely under Daesh. Many of them are on the move, further risking their lives to escape the terrorist group and the fighting, and are desperately in need of safe shelter. They should not be subjected to further suffering and intimidation," U.N. Special Representative for Iraq Jan Kubis said Sunday.
The government said Shiite militias will not join the final assault on Fallujah as to decrease fears over sectarian violence.