We stood on a bleak hillside in eastern Iraq looking at a makeshift grave. It held a dozen Shia Arabs, according to the Kurdish troops escorting us. The dead were men, women and children murdered by fighters from the so-called Islamic State as they retreated, said the Kurds. We stepped gingerly around scraps of women’s clothing and a bone poking out through the dirt. In the town on the dusty plain below, Shi’ite militias were busy taking revenge on Sunnis, our escorts said, looting and killing. The town’s Sunni Arab population had fled to a miserable camp. Streams of sewage ran between their tents. But they wouldn’t go home, they said, until the militias left, replaced by the army.
They may be there a while. The Iraqi army is weak and the government continues to rely on Shi’ite militias paid for and ultimately directed by Iran.