‘Sunnis concerned about Shia militia near Fallujah’

Sunnis concern about the presence of Iraqi Shia militia and Iranian commander near Fallujah city, west of Baghdad, said former governor of Nineveh Province Atheel al-Nujaifi on Thursday.

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – Iraqi Sunnis are concerned about the presence of Iraqi Shia militia and Iranian commander near the city of Fallujah, said the former governor of Nineveh Province, Atheel al-Nujaifi, on Thursday.

Fallujah, located in the west of Baghdad, hosts mostly Sunni Arabs and is currently under the control of the Islamic State (IS).

The military offensive for liberating the city from jihadists was launched by the Iraqi security forces. Iraqi Shia militia Hashd al-Shaabi has deployed forces around the city, assisting the Iraqi army in their advance toward Fallujah.

“We prefer that the official forces of Iraq retake Fallujah from Dae’sh [IS],” Nujaifi told Kurdistan24.

He said locals are weary of Hashd al-Shaabi and the Iranian Quds Forces Commander, Qassim Soleimani, near Fallujah. “Their presence will have a negative impact on Sunni people in general.”

“The presence of Qassim Soleimani in the area is a message that Iran interferes in the internal affairs of Iraq and increases its hegemony in the country,” Nujaifi explained.


Nujaifi highlighted the situation in Nineveh Province in the post-IS area and called for autonomy. “We [Sunnis] want to have autonomy for Nineveh in Iraq. It’s the people of Nineveh who will decide on that, and I hope Baghdad will support our efforts in this case.”

He stated that the federal government of Iraq "can’t solve all problems in all over Iraq. Therefore, we should find the substitute as a plan B,” Nujaifi concluded.

Hashd al-Shaabi — one of the largest Shia militias in Iraq — was created by a top Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, after the collapse of the Iraqi army in June 2014.

The Iraqi Federal Government largely supports the militia, which has primarily conducted military operations against the Islamic State (IS) in several provinces across the country.

Human rights organizations often report that the militia violates human rights and commits war crimes.

Reporting by Mewan Dolamari
Editing by Ava Homa