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Iraq PM Says Mobilization Forces Will Remain

Iraq PM Says Mobilization Forces Will RemainIraq PM Says Mobilization Forces Will Remain

Paramilitary troops fighting the self-styled Islamic State terror group alongside government forces will not be disbanded, and shall partake in the upcoming offensives targeting the group’s havens, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Saturday.

“There is an insistence that everyone take part in the battle for the liberation of Tal Afar,” Abadi said during a celebration held by al-Abbass division, a component of the Popular Mobilization Forces, the Shia-dominated, Iran-backed paramilitary troops. He was referring to the western Nineveh town which remains a major Islamic State stronghold and which has been set as the target for future military operations, Iraq News reported.

“The Popular Mobilization is under the command of the clergy and the state. It belongs to Iraqis and it shall not be disbanded,” the prime minister said. Abadi’s remarks came one day after Shia cleric and political leader Muqtada al-Sadr called to ensure the PMF were operating under the state’s oversight.

Delivering a speech to hundreds of thousands of his followers at al-Tahrir Square in Baghdad, al-Sadr urged to incorporate the mobilization forces within the official Iraqi army, and stressed on the importance of “placing weapons exclusively within the state’s hands”.

Sadr’s speech in Baghdad came after his visit over the weekend to Saudi Arabia, where he met with the Saudi crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman, in what many observers believe was another ploy by the oil kingdom to bring more Iraqi figures under Riyadh’s orbit and weaken Iran.

Popular mobilization troops were formed in 2014 as per an edict by Iraq’s top Shia clergy to combat IS militants. They won government recognition as a national force under the prime minister’s command, but have faced recurrent accusations of human rights breaches and stirred controversy over reports saying they crossed the borders into Syria to fight IS by the side of Syrian government troops.

 

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