ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The Deputy Commander of the Hashd al-Shaabi militias recently revealed that Iran and Lebanon-based Hezbollah played an essential role in the formation and strengthening of the Shia militia group in Iraq.
Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the Deputy Commander of the Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi, also known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), stated that since the creation of the PMF, Iran had opened its treasury in support of the militia group.
“In the Hashd al-Shaabi, we have been able to train thousands of fighters on different weapons and different military units, creating an integral military and security system that becomes integrated day after day,” Muhandis stated during a speech in Basra last week.
Discussing the PMF’s achievements during the war against the Islamic State (IS), Muhandis noted they “were able to form a general command center [for the Hashd al-Shaabi] that is equivalent to the ones at the ministries of defense and interior [in Iraq].”
“The support of the Islamic Republic [of Iran] has been essential, and the youth of Hezbollah had an essential role in training, planning, and supporting [the PMF factions],” Muhandis added.
The PMF Deputy Commander also praised the role of Iran and Iraqi Shia clerics in supporting the militia group.
“The Islamic Republic opened its treasury for us when weapons and ammunition were lacking,” Muhandis noted. “With [Iranian] support, we were able to defeat [IS] militarily.”
He explained that the Hashd al-Shaabi’s duties now consisted of “continuing the security fight against IS extremists and preventing the former [Iraqi regime’s] Ba’ath party affiliates from returning to power.”
The Hashd al-Shaabi was formed in late 2014 after a decision by top Iraqi cleric Ali al-Sistani to protect Shia shrines in central and southern Iraq from the threat of IS attacks.
The Shia force, who was officially included in the Iraqi army, has repeatedly been accused of being under the direct command of Tehran rather than Baghdad.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany