Iranian backed militias repeatedly killed and kidnapped Sunni civilians in a recent Iraqi effort to retake the Islamic State held city of Fallujah, an official report by the Sunni-majority Iraqi state of Anbar says.
The report accounts 49 Sunni killed and 643 missing just been June 3-5. The report further alleges “all detainees have been subject to severe collective torture.” Esa Al-Esawi, Mayor of Fallujah, told The Daily Beast “Operations in the northern front stopped because of violations against civilians” by the Iranian backed militias. Esawi elaborated that the Shia militias were “not respecting human rights laws.”
The U.S. backed government in Baghdad has allowed the Iranian backed militias to take part in the assault on Fallujah despite U.S. protests. The U.S. has insisted the militias not be allowed to enter the city proper and have refused to provide them air support. The U.S. has only provided air support to the elite Iraqi counter-terrorism forces assaulting the city from the south, while the militias advance from the north.
The Baghdad led government considers the Shia militias an official part of the Iraqi Anti-ISIS force and collaborate with them regularly on the battlefield. These Iranian backed militias, who regard Sunni’s as unbelievers, have long track records of violence against Sunni civilians. The government has refused to accuse the militias of human rights violations fearing Iranian pushback.
A Shia militia commander posted a video on May 23 proclaiming to his soldiers Fallujah no longer had any true Muslims tacitly giving them permission to treat civilians as collaborators of ISIS. The militia groups all have long-standing links to Iran and in some cases have been commanded by Iranian generals in Iraq.
The Iranian backed militias reportedly have little interest in restoring Fallujah to its predominantly Sunni population. Their Tehran exported agenda seems to be the establishment of an Iranian proxy force over all of Iraq. Meanwhile the Baghdad led government shares the U.S. goal of keeping Iraq multi-ethnic united under one government.
The Institute for the Study of War noted in a recent report that the Iranian backed effort to retake Fallujah “can set back overall efforts to reconcile Sunni populations.” The current sectarian conflict and poverty in Iraq is exactly what gave rise to ISIS, the thinking goes, and allows the terrorist group to thrive throughout many major cities in Iraq.
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