Iraqi Sunnis join Shia militias to fight IS militants
By: News Desk
BAGHDAD, Iraq: Thousands of Sunni Muslim tribesmen have
joined the Shia armed factions which are fighting militant ISIS in the
Sunni areas to get the required moral and logistical support to
liberate their areas.
"Figures who are playing the sectarian card and insist on refusing to
cooperate with what they call the Shia militias, currently are living
in Arbil, Dubai and Amman hotels, while our children and our women
have been dying every day in tents set up for them in the desert,"
said Mohammed, an Iraqi Sunni Muslim commander who is fighting IS in
Anbar alongside Kataib Hezbollah, a prominent Shia militia.
He further said: "Let them bring their families to live with our
families in the tents and then we will talk."
Mohammed, who declined to use his full name for sensitivity, spoke to
Middle East Eye News agency as he was following the paper work of his
fighters with the Iraqi federal authorities in Baghdad.
A third of the Iraqi territories in the Sunni-dominated north and
western parts of the country fell into the hands of IS's militants
Since then, Shia militias including Badr Organisation, Asaib Ahl
al-Haq and Kataib Hezbollah-Iraq have been representing the backbone
of the Popular Mobilisation force which was formed by the Iraqi
government last June after the fatwa of Ayatullah Sistani.
The Popular Mobilisation consists of prominent Shia militias in
addition to all the new Shiiite and multi-sectarian armed formations.
Many new Sunni battalions, each one consisting of 250-600 fighters,
have been formed in the Sunni areas in Diyala province east of
Baghdad, the Sunni-dominated province of Anbar and Salahudeen
province, the home town of the former Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein.
These battalions have linked to Badr, Kataib Hezbollah-Iraq, Asaib Ahl
al-Haq, al-Nujabaa (a split group of Asaib), Jund al-Imam (a new Shia
militia formed last year), Ali al-Akbar Bregaid (a new Shiiite militia
formed a few months ago), and Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada (a new Shia
"From the beginning we thought there was no way to liberate our lands,
but by getting the help of Iraqis, not relying on the United States
nor any other countries, so we joined the Popular Mobilisation,"
Khalid Abdullah, the commander of Asaib Ahl al-Haq Sunni Battalion in
Salahudeen told MEE by phone.
"Early this year, we joined Asaib Ahl al-Haq and since then we have
been fighting, shoulder by shoulder to liberate our areas … they
unconditionally armed, equipped and trained my 600 fighters," Abdullah
Merging the small, new armed groups, regardless of their affiliations,
with a prominent Shia militia such as Badr, Asaib or Kataib gives
their fighters access to medium and light weapons and equipment
without being subject to the slow and routine procedures which are
adopted by the Iraqi Ministry of Defence, Sunni commanders said.
The Iraqi government has been struggling since last year to combat the
militant organisation which declared an Islamic caliphate stretching
across the Syrian and Iraqi territories and still controls the Iraqi
city of Mosul, most of the towns and cities of Anbar and large parts
of Salahudeen and Kirkuk provinces.
"We believe that these (Sunni) areas have to be governed by its
people, so we are not interested to make any demographic changes or
drive Sunnis away from their areas," Taha Diraa, a leader of the
National Alliance, the biggest Shia political bloc told MEE News
"All what we are interested in now is building a mutual trust with
them (Sunnis) which would produce, in the long term, a national
project," Diraa said.
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