Friday, October 7, 2022

Baghdad

Militia rebuffs criticisms, prepare fresh attacks on Islamic State

 Militia rebuffs criticisms, prepare fresh attacks on Islamic State

The spokesman for al-Hashed al-Sha’bi militia Ahmed al-Asadi

The spokesman for al-Hashed al-Sha’bi militia Ahmed al-Asadi
Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) Shia-led militias fighting Islamic State militants with the Iraqi government rebuffed on Thursday accusations of committing war crimes, announcing that they were preparing for fresh onslaughts against the extremist group.

Ahmed al-Assadi, spokesperson of al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Units) said Thursday that a sixth phase of the militia’s operations against IS in western Mosul was due to start soon, seeking the liberation of the strategic IS stronghold of Tal Afar.

Responding to accusations by Amnesty International on Thursday that PMU use arms supplies from several countries to commit war crimes, Assadi labelled the accusations as lies, demanding Iraq’s foreign ministry to sue the organization.

“Whatever is circulated across malicious media about violations is untrue,” Assadi said during a press conference. “The priority for al-Hashd al-Shaabi is to protect civilians, and we shall chase Daesh (Islamic State) to the last spot of Mosul and based on directives from the supreme commander of the armed forces,” he said, referring to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

PMUs have been actively fighting Islamic State militants in western Mosul, while government forces are still struggling to clear the eastern section from IS extremists. PMUs recaptured the strategic Tal Afar airport in November and are eyeing to advance towards the center of the town.

Al-Hashd al-Shaabi was formed by a decree in 2014 from Iraq’s top Shia clergy to combat the Islamic State militants who took over many regions of Iraq. In December, Iraqi President Fuad Masum approved a law passed by parliament in November that turned al-Hashd al-Shaabi from a paramilitary to national force.

But its involvement in the liberation of areas inhabited by Sunnis has aroused international fears especially among Sunni powers such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia, as well as from the United Nations.

Earlier on Thursday, Amnesty said countries supplying arms to PMUs, most notably Iran, the US and Russia, “must wake up to the fact that all arms transfers to Iraq carry a real risk of ending up in the hands of militia groups with long histories of human rights violations.”

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