ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The Hashd al-Shaabi Shia paramilitary troops will not be disbanded and shall participate in the upcoming military operations against the Islamic State (IS), the Prime Minister of Iraq Haider al-Abadi said on Saturday.
Prime Minister Abadi attended an event in Baghdad organized by the Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi troops, also known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).
“There is an insistence that everyone participates in the offensive to liberate Tal Afar [a town in west Mosul],” the Prime Minister said.
“Hashd al-Shaabi is under the command of the clergy and the state,” the senior Iraqi official emphasized. “It belongs to Iraqis, and it shall not be disbanded.”
Abadi’s speech came one day after top Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called on the Federal Government of Iraq—in front of hundreds of thousands of demonstrators in Baghdad—to ensure the PMF was operating under the command of the state.
Sadr also called on the government to incorporate the PMF within the official Iraqi army, emphasizing on “putting arms solely within the state’s hands.”
The Hashd al-Shaabi was formed after a decision by top Iraqi cleric Ali al-Sistani in late 2014 to protect Shia shrines from the threat of IS attacks in central and southern Iraq.
The Shia force has repeatedly been accused of being under the direct command of Tehran rather than Baghdad.
The Shia force has also been accused by international human rights organizations for committing war crimes in the fight against IS.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany