Shia militia brings reinforcements to Kirkuk

PMU brought ten tanks and other types of heavy weapons and a large number of fighters to southern Kirkuk.

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (K24) – Shia Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) has brought more troops from Najaf and Karbala to southern Kirkuk on Saturday, and these reinforcements will liberate the village of Bashir shortly, according to the militia.

In a video released on Kurdistan24 last week, PMU reinforcements are seen transporting tanks and armored vehicles to areas surrounding Kirkuk Province.

“When Dae’sh [IS] makes moves and brings reinforcements to [Turkmen village of] Bashir, and when they attack, we are then forced to bring reinforcements,” Mohammad Mahdi, PMU Commander in northern Iraq told a K24 reporter.

“With any military decision we make, we do so in cooperation with Peshmerga forces and the local administration in Kirkuk. Bringing more reinforcements should not be seen as a threat [to Peshmega],” Mahdi added.

According to Ahmad Aziz, Gorran Movement head of Disputed Territories Department, PMU poses a threat to Kurds in Kirkuk. “PMU established bases in the Kurdish areas of Laylan and Qara Hasan,” Aziz told K24. Laylan and Qara Hasan are villages some 30 kilometers south of the city of Kirkuk, near Tuz Khurmatu.

In an interview with K24 on Saturday, Mohammad Khurshid, Kurdistan Democratic Party Leadership Council member, said, “There is enough of a presence of Peshmerga to secure and defend the surrounding areas of Kirkuk, and they have been a very effective force.”

In 2015, the number of Shia militia forces increased around Kirkuk. Khurshid explains, “Rumors claiming that the militia is made up of residents from Kirkuk are not accurate… [they are] brought from Najaf and Karbala [in southern Iraq].”

Khurshid also mentioned that previous violent incidents between Shia militias and Peshmerga in the large town of Tuz Khurmatu prove that the militia has potentially "negative intentions.”

 

Reporting by Baxtiyar Goran                                   

Editing by Benjamin Kweskin

(Soran Kamaran contributed to this report from Kirkuk)