Shia militia cannot retake Bashir without Peshmerga

"Hashd al-Shaabi cannot retake Bashir if it does not cooperate with Peshmerga forces"

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (K24) – A Kurdish official says that without cooperation with Peshmerga forces, Hashd al-Shaabi militia's operation to retake the Turkmen village of Bashir from the Islamic State (IS) will fail.

Rebwar Talabani, acting chairman of Kirkuk Provincial Council, told K24, “Without Peshmerga’s back up, Hashd al-Shaabi cannot retake Bashir even with new recruits."

"Liberation of the new areas surrounding Kirkuk should be done in coordination with Peshmerga forces. Hashd al-Shaabi cannot make any progress against ISIS in these areas on its own,” he added.

Hashd al-Shaabi forces are now 15 kilometers (9 miles) south from the city of Kirkuk. The Shia militia brought more troops from Najaf and Karbala to southern Kirkuk last week, and their commanders told K24 that these reinforcements would liberate the village soon. 

Talabani said that Hashd al-Shaabi had previously tried to retake Bashir singlehandedly, but it failed and lost four hummers to ISIS and had 70 of its fighters killed.

Shia militias claim that the local government in Kirkuk is undermining their role in the provincial security meetings.

However, according to Talabani, “The security committee meeting is related to Kirkuk administration and local security forces; it is not related to the military.”

“There is a military committee that Peshmerga forces, Kirkuk Suburb Police and Turkmen forces (both Shia and Sunni) have representatives in, but Hashd al-Shaabi has not elected anyone to represent them yet,” Talabani added.

Ahmed Safi, the commander of the newly arrived troops, told K24, “We are here [in surrounding areas of Kirkuk] to retake Bashir from IS.”

Hashd al-Shaabi is an exclusively Shia militia formed after Iranian Shia high cleric in Iraq, Ali al-Sistani, called to form the group in June 2014 to fight IS insurgents.


Reporting by Baxtiyar Goran

Editing by Ava Homa and Karzan Sulaivany

(Hemin Dalo & Hunar Ahmed from Kirkuk contributed to this report.)