ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Iranian-backed Shia-dominated Hashd al-Shaabi militia on Wednesday announced the closure of over 320 fake offices which had been opened under their name in different Iraqi cities with Baghdad topping the list.
The militia, also known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), did not reveal the period for the crackdown on the offices but praised “other security services” and their coordination in the operation.
“Baghdad recorded the highest figures for the fake offices as it is a densely-populated region compared to the rest of the areas,” the PMF said in a statement.
The statement did not mention how many people had been arrested in the campaign, but noted that “many were brought to justice,” including “those accused of committing crimes, drug trafficking, abusing people, and confiscating their properties.”
In the past few years, Iraqi forces relied on the Shia militias to liberate different parts of the country from the so-called Islamic State after the extremist group occupied large swaths of territory in 2014.
Established in 2014 to fight the terror group, the PMF was formally incorporated into the Iraqi army in 2017. Many of its militia groups receive direct military support from neighboring Iran.
They have, however, been repeatedly accused of committing war crimes, human rights violations, and abusing people, namely in the areas liberated from the Islamic State.
In September 2018, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said they had documented 36 people who the PMF kidnapped between April to October 2017.
In February 2019, Amnesty International claimed the militia group was involved in regularly arresting and kidnapping civilians.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany