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PMU Necessary for Iraq Security, Defense

PMU Necessary for Iraq Security, DefensePMU Necessary for Iraq Security, Defense

Iran's ambassador in Baghdad defended the role of the Popular Mobilization Units, better known as Hashd al-Shaabi, in fighting terrorism in Iraq, saying the force is necessary for the country's security.

"Hashd al-Shaabi is today a powerful legal organization in Iraq and recognized by the Iraqi government and parliament," Iraj Masjedi also said in an interview with Press TV earlier this week.

A combination of some 40 groups of mostly Shia fighters, Hashd al-Shaabi was formed shortly after the emergence of the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group in Iraq in mid-2014.

In the early days of the IS reign of terror, the then volunteer fighters played a major role in reinforcing the Iraqi Army, which had suffered heavy setbacks in the face of lightning advances by the terrorists.

In November 2016, the Iraqi Parliament voted to integrate Hashd al-Shaabi into the military.

On Friday, Iraq's most senior Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani said the volunteer forces, who helped the army eradicate IS, should be "incorporated" into state bodies.

The secretary-general of Badr Organization, Iraq's biggest Shia Muslim paramilitary group, told his fighters on Thursday to take orders from the national military and sever their relations with the group's political wing, which holds 22 seats in the Iraqi Parliament.

Asked about recent calls by western countries for dismantling the group, Masjedi said the group's dissolution "has no meaning".

"If the US and others call [for dismantling PMU], firstly, it is none of their business and this decision is for the Iraqi people to take. Secondly, in my opinion, it is a necessity for Iraq's security and its defense," he said.

The Iranian envoy stressed that Hashd al-Shaabi is a force that has, along with other Iraqi armed forces, created a big military, defense and defense power for the country.

In the post-IS era, Masjedi said, Hashd al-Shaabi would "guarantee" the country's security and serve as a deterrent against future threats to Iraq.

"The group belongs to the Iraqi nation and government and defends the country's territorial integrity," he said.

Asked about the security situation on the Iraqi-Syrian border, the ambassador said only the governments of the two countries are responsible for safeguarding their frontiers and the US should not interfere in the issue.

Masjedi also touched on Iran's support for the Iraqi government and armed forces in their fight against terrorism, saying that the presence of Iranian military advisors in Iraq in the post-IS era depends on the situation and Baghdad's request.

 

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