Iraqi army and Shia militia forces in Al-Alam, north of Tikrit
Iraqi army and Shia militia forces in Al-Alam, north of Tikrit Reuters

Pro-government militiamen were seen looting shops in the center of the Iraqi city of Tikrit on Wednesday after its recapture from the Islamic State (ISIS) jihadist group in a month-long battle, AFP reported.

The militiamen took items including clothing, shampoo and shaving cream from two shops in central Tikrit before driving away, the report said.

Two trucks were also seen leaving Tikrit loaded with new tires, a generator and a mirror that fell out and shattered on the highway.

While localized, the incidents raise concerns over how the myriad militiamen now in the city will conduct themselves.

As they have in other areas, militiamen also spray painted the names of their groups on houses and shops in the city, including on unbroken windows that had survived the fighting.

Baghdad turned to Shiite militias to bolster its flagging forces after ISIS jihadists led a sweeping offensive that overran large areas north and west of Baghdad last year.

They have played a major role in successful operations against ISIS, but have also been accused of abuses including summary executions, kidnappings.

Human Rights Watch said this month that both security forces and militias "engaged in deliberate destruction of civilian property" after breaking a months-long siege of the town of Amerli last year.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon said during a visit to Baghdad this week that Iraq must "bring volunteer armed groups fighting in support of the government under government control".

"Civilians freed from the brutality of Daesh should not have to then fear their liberators," he said, according to AFP, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS.

Iraq said on Tuesday that security and allied forces backed by coalition aircraft liberated the city of Tikrit, its biggest victory yet in the fight against ISIS.

The operation to retake the hometown of former president Saddam Hussein began on March 2 and had looked bogged down before Iraqi forces made rapid advances over the 48 hours preceding the liberation.