ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The brother of a Peshmerga fighter was killed by Iranian-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militia forces on Wednesday in one of Mosul’s eastern suburbs.
The incident occurred at a checkpoint manned by the Shia militia, also known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), in the Gogjali area east of Mosul, a security source told Kurdistan 24.
The victim, Ghazwan Abdulwahab, worked as a taxi driver carrying passengers from Erbil to Mosul.
“During his return from Mosul, near Gogjali, he was forced to stop near a PMF checkpoint where several Shia militia fighters dismounted, went to my brother’s car, and opened fire on his body,” Mohammed Abdulwahab, the victim’s brother, told Kurdistan 24.
Mohammed, a Peshmerga fighter, and his family believe Ghazwan was killed because he was a Kurd.
“What sense of humanity do these people [Hashd al-Shaabi] have?” One of Ghazwan’s relatives told Kurdistan 24. “Arabs here are safe and free to live their lives, but because [Ghazwan] was a Kurd he was killed.”
Ghazwan leaves behind two children, which relatives say “do not deserve the pain” of growing up confused about their father’s death.
A security source confirmed that the checkpoint was under the control of “one of the arms” within the Hashd al-Shaabi, adding that the incident occurred after a “verbal altercation between the parties.”
According to the security source, police had arrested the man responsible for Ghazwan’s death.
The Iranian-backed militia force has often been accused of human rights abuses and other violations since their inclusion in the Iraqi army following the emergence of the Islamic State (IS) in 2014.
More recently, the militias have targeted Kurds in disputed areas including Kirkuk after the province, previously under Peshmerga control, was taken over by Iraqi forces and the Hashd al-Shaabi on Oct. 16, 2017.
Ali al-Sistani, an Iranian Shia cleric in Iraq, created the PMF after issuing a “fatwa” following IS’ blitzkrieg of both Iraq and Syria.
The organization consists of over 100 armed groups mostly close to Iran with a vast majority of them having political wings in the Iraqi government, especially those that receive support and funding from Tehran.
(Additional reporting by Zardasht Hamid and Baxtiyar Goran in Erbil)