Sadrists demand removal of Shiite militias from Baghdad’s Green Zone after bloody unrest
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – All the militias should be removed from Baghdad's high-security Green Zone, including the Popular Mobilization Units (PMF), a Sadrist spokesperson urged on Thursday.
The statement came after the bloody skirmishes that took place on Monday and Tuesday inside the zone between the followers of powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr and the pro-Iran factions. As a result, at least 30 supporters of the leader were killed.
In a list of demands directed at Iraqi Prime Minister and Commander-in-Chief Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, the Sadrist media figure also asked the official to change the incumbent head of PMF, Falih Al-Fayyadh, as he is "incompetent" and "political", Mohammad Salih Al-Iraqi, identifying himself as Al-Sadr's Minister, said.
Al-Iraqi went further and asked the premier to formally abolish "the self-proclaimed Muqawama (resistance) forces as they kill the people".
"All [armed] groups, including PMF, should be expelled from Green Zone," he said, adding the security of the zone has to be handled by the "patriotic security forces".
Between 500 to 10,000 PMF fighters are estimated to be based inside the zone, Michael Knights, a co-founder of Militia Spotlight platform, which offers analysis on Iranian-backed militia forces in Iraq and Syria, said in an article on Wednesday.
The zone houses several top government officials as well as foreign diplomatic representations, including the US and the UK.
Al-Iraqi warned that the forces' presence in the area poses security risks to the prime minister personally and other state institutions.
"Iran-backed terrorists masquerading as government fighters have instigated and provided targeting data for attacks against the U.S. and British embassies and Iraqi officials, including the prime minister," Knights argued.
Armed members of Saraya Al-Salam (Peace Brigades), a paramilitary force loyal to Al-Sadr, clashed with another pro-Iran militia, Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, in the southern Iraqi province of Basra later Wednesday.
Established in 2014 by a religious order (fatwa), Hashd Al-Shaabi has become an umbrella term for groups of paramilitary forces that are mainly loyal to Iran and are part of the Iraqi security apparatus.
The US has designated a number of PMF groups such as Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, Kataib Hezbollah, and Asaib Ahl al-Haq.