Nineveh (IraqiNews.com) A deputy chief of Iraqi paramilitary troops fighting the Islamic State said Sunday his forces could fight the group beyond Iraqi borders if the country’s national security becomes threatened.
Abu Mahdi Al-Mohandes, deputy commander of the Popular Mobilization Units, said “mobilization forces will go after terrorism outside Iraq if it threatens Iraq’s soil and national security”. He added, in a press statement, that his forces will assist Iraqi army and police forces in policing the borders with Syria.
Mohandes’s remarks revive a controversy around whether the Shia-led, Iran-trained force could pass the Syrian borders to give leverage to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces against IS and other and rebel groups. A mobilization forces spokesperson said last week that the troops would not take the step unless with an Iraqi parliament greenlight. U.S.-backed Kurdish Syrian forces fighting the Islamic State had warned the organization of crossing the borders.
“Popular Mobilization Units are holding all Iraqi borders reaching to 50 kilometers south of al-Waleed crossing,” said al-Mohandes.
“The forces will head to non-liberated areas in western Nineveh around Baaj, such as the Mosul-Tikrit road, eastern Shirqat, parts of Baiji and other regions where Daesh (Islamic State) has a presence in Anbar,” he added.
Earlier on Sunday, Popular Mobilization Units said they had fully recaptured Baaj region, a major step towards clearing the Syrian-Iraqi borderline from Islamic State militants and isolating the group from its Syria and Nineveh stronghold.
Operations to retake Baaj launched in May 12th, and were running coincidently with government troop’s operations to drive IS out of Mosul.