ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (K24) – Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Saturday that the Hashd al-Shaabi militias will participate in the Mosul liberation operation.
Abadi responded to questions from MP's in the Iraqi parliament, “There is no pressure from the US on the participation of Hashd al-Shaabi forces in Mosul's liberation, but they will participate.”
The PM added that all Iraqi forces will join in the action without exception. “There are no foreign troops on the ground fighting Dae’sh except advisors training the Iraqi security forces,” he said, using the pejorative term for the Islamic State (IS).
Abadi also announced that cooperation with the Kurdistan Region continues as Peshmerga forces are part of the Iraqi defense system, and they have a share in the budget. However, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) officials claim that the Iraqi government has never paid the salaries of the Peshmerga.
“There is cooperation with the Region for the liberation of Nineveh Province, mainly as the reinforcement of Iraqi troops in Makhmor has already started,” Abadi explained.
As the military operation to liberate Mosul in northern Iraq approaches, more Iraqi soldiers have been deployed to Makhmour in recent days. On Feb. 12, some 750 soldiers from Iraq’s 15 Division were stationed in the area, and on Tuesday the second convoy equipped with heavy weapons arrived.
Elsewhere, the former Nineveh Governor and Commander of Hashd al-Watani Sunni fighters Atheel al-Nijaifi stated on his Facebook page on Saturday, “The participation of Hashd al-Shaabi militias in the operation of Mosul liberation is unacceptable.”
“The contribution of Hashd al-Shaabi is a sensitive question for the people of Nineveh...[so this] might lead to political issues later on,” the head of the Ninevah Provincial Council Bashar Kiki told K24 last week.
With nearly 1.5 million people still living in the city, Mosul—the second largest province in Iraq—is the largest city that has been controlled by IS since June 2014.
Reporting by Baxtiyar Goran
Editing by Ava Homa and Karzan Sulaivany