HALABJA, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi forces have enlisted hundreds of Kurdish people in Halabja for missions in the Khurmatu and Kirkuk areas in southern Kurdistan, according to a recent recruit.
Salim is the fake name of a Kurdish man from Halabja Province who recently joined the Hashd al-Shaabi.
In an interview with Kurdistan24, he explained the details of the deal and asked to remain anonymous in the report.
Salim said he had registered his name for the Shia militia with some of his friends.
According to him, the high rate of unemployment in his area pushed many Kurds to enroll with the Shia forces.
“They have told us the salary would be at least IQD 1,100,000 [USD $930] per month,” Salim said, stating most of the recruited Kurds were unemployed or university graduates.
Hashd al-Shaabi, also known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), is one of the largest militias in Iraq consisting of over 51 militant groups.
The militia was created in 2014 after a top Iranian Shia cleric in Iraq Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani decided to protect the Shia shrines from the Islamic State (IS).
Hashd al-Shaabi has often been reported by Amnesty, an international human rights organization, for committing war crimes in different parts of Iraq.
In late 2016, the federal government of Iraq recognized the militia as a national armed force.
Salim explained their missions would be in or south of the Kirkuk Province, including Khurmatu town which is one of the most tensioned areas between the Kurdish Peshmerga and PMF.
“The Commander of the Brigade is a Kurd from Halabja. The unit will be made of Kurds from Sharazur, Hawraman, and Halabja,” Salim added.
Moreover, he mentioned they would later be trained for 20 days either at the Salam Military base in Sulaimani Province or Kirkuk.
The PMF would also provide weapons and military equipment just like the Iraqi Army and other Shia forces, Salim revealed.
According to him, the whereabouts of their missions were not determined yet, but they had to be ready whenever the PMF called on them.
Anwar Anabi, a member of the Kurdistan Islamic Movement (KIM), spoke to Kurdistan24 about the PMF’s recruitment of Kurds.
Anabi said the PMF had told the Kurdish recruits they were “are all from Iraq, and the Kurdistan Region was part of it.”
He added the Shia forces noted recruiting Kurds was more practical than “bringing Shia people from southern Iraq.”
Unconfirmed data reveals Hashd al-Shaabi has so far recruited about 450 Kurds from the Halabja Province.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany
(Additional reporting by Hoshmand Sadiq)