International Rescue Committee

Inside Iraq's 'killing zones'

Shi'ite militias and Iraqi security forces, engaged in an all-or-nothing struggle with radical Sunni group Islamic State, are blasting the Sunni farmlands that encircle Baghdad with heavy weapons. Military officers call their target areas in the rural belt "killing zones."

"In these parts, there are no civilians," said Lieutenant Colonel Haider Mohammed Hatem, deputy commander of the armed forces around Abu Ghraib, just west of the capital. "Everyone in these killing zones we consider Islamic State."

The death zones now scar the more than 124 mile Baghdad Belt, as it is commonly known. Since January, at least 83,000 people,...