Head of Iraqi army’s Jazeera Operations Command, announced the launch of a new military operation in the southern area of Iraqi city of Anbar to liberate it from the grip of ISIS extremist group. Meanwhile, Turkey’s President Recep Tayeb Erdogan described Popular Mobilization Force as a terrorist organization.
According to Mohamedi, the Iraqi security forces and members of the Iraqi tribes launched a military operation to liberate the Iraqi city from the grip of ISIS extremist group in cooperation with the International Coalition’s fighter jets. He added that they managed to kill dozens of extremists and destroyed a large number of bombing wheels.
Iraqi army’s Jazeera Operations Command has declared launching a military operation to liberate and comb some regions in the north of Haditha Dam lake, western Anbar. “Security troops as well as the tribesmen, backed by the U.S.-led coalition, launched military operation to free some regions in the north Haditha Dam lake, 160 KM west of Ramadi city,” Lt. Gen. Qassem Mohammedi, head of the command, told Al Sumaria News on Thursday.
“The troops killed dozens of extremists and blew up several booby-trapped vehicles belonging to the Islamic State,” he added. The regions in the north of the lake are desert ones with a number of houses that are used by IS militants as hideouts.
Haditha city is fully controlled by security forces and tribal fighters, however, IS launches attacks there every now and then. Earlier this week, additional U.S. forces reportedly arrived to a military base in Iraq’s Anbar province to take part in the security campaign against IS militants.
In March, reports indicated possible joint operations by the Iraqi and U.S. forces to clear IS-held towns of Annah, Rawa and Qaim near the borders with Syria . In the same month, the Iraqi Joint Operations Command denied news on arrival of 2000 U.S. Marine soldiers in Anbar to engage in the campaign.
In January, the province’s military command launched a brief assault that managed to recapture some western villages before stopping again. Fighter jets from the Iraqi army and the international coalition have also regularly pounded IS locations in the province.
On the other hand, Remarks by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in which he labeled Iraqi paramilitary forces fighting the Islamic State as “terrorist” represent a “flagrant intervention” in Iraqi affairs, a spokesperson said Thursday.
Ahmed al-Assadi, a spokesperson of al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Units), said the remarks are “a violation against an Iraqi security institution” that is “recognized by the parliament and the state”.
Speaking in an interview with Qatari network al-Jazeera late Wednesday, Erdogan said al-Hashd forces are a part of what he called Iran’s “Persian expansion policy”.
“Who are al-Hashd al-Shaabi? Who is backing them? The Iraqi parliament supports al-Hashd al-Shaabi, but, honestly, they are a terrorist organization, and should be known who stands behind it,” he said during the interview.
He added that PMUs, active in the Sanjar region, west of Mosul, are “acting against Tal Afar”, referring to an Islamic State stronghold town with a Turkmen majority, a community which Ankara has shown anxiousness to protect from ethnic bigotry.
Al-Hashd al-Shaabi was formed by a decree from Iraq’s top Shia clergy in 2014 to combat the Islamic State militants who took over many regions of Iraq.It won parliament recognition as a national armed force late 2016. The militia, an alliance of more than 60 groups, is currently engaged in fighting against ISIS on the side of the Iraqi government forces, and its expected involvement in the liberation of areas inhabited by Sunnis and Turkmen has aroused international and local fears of sectarian twists.
United Nations agencies have occasionally said PMUs were involved in human rights violations during their battles against IS.
The Iraqi government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi fervently defends al-Hashd against criticisms. Earlier in April, Abadi vowed to “cut the hands” of whoever defames al-Hashd al-Shaabi. “They volunteered to defend Iraq and its people based on a fatwa by the clergy,” he said during an event marking the passing of a senior Shia religious figure.
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