ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi Shia militias currently residing in Iran recently killed two Kurdish workers, a local watchdog reported on Wednesday.
Allies of Tehran and trained by their military, a large convoy of fifty vehicles of the Hashd al-Shaabi, also known as Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), arrived in Iran in mid-April to “partake in relief efforts” after flash floods struck multiple areas in the neighboring country and killed dozens of people, the group claimed in an official statement.
Reports alleged that the militias had gone to Iran at the request of Major General Qasim Soleimani, head of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Others said members of the Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba brigades were among incoming troops. The US recently sanctioned both the IRGC and the al-Nujaba brigades as terrorist groups.
Taking to social media, Iranian people protested the move, and some described the Hashd al-Shaabi as “occupying forces,” demanding their ouster. Others suggested the national military had invited the militias to suppress protests that could have occurred due to increasingly deteriorating living conditions amid a weakening economy and US sanction reimposed in 2018.
With the floods’ severity waning, people from Kurdish cities of Iran reported the presence of Shia militias in their areas. Late April, a security source told rights group and watchdog Hengaw that a garrison of local forces in the city of Oshinaveh (Shno) had been evacuated and replaced with a Hashd al-Shaabi detachment of about sixty militiamen.
The report claimed the IRGC had brought over the Shia militias to deploy them to the border areas that neighbor the Kurdistan Region and fight pro-autonomy Kurdish armed rebel groups which reside in the area and, on occasion, fight Iranian border guards and IRGC forces.
The latest shooting occurred in Shno, where the Hashd al-Shaabi forces “directed fire” at a passing vehicle and killed two “worker Kurds” by the names of Raouf Khalid and Ne’mat Se’adat, Hengaw reported, without elaborating further.
Editing by Nadia Riva