Volunteer, Peshmerga forces team up in battle for Mosul: President Masum
Iraqi President Fuad Masum says the volunteer fighters, known as the Popular Mobilization Forces or Hashd al-Shaabi, as well as Kurdish Peshmerga will definitely join the operation aimed at liberating the northern city of Mosul from the Daesh Takfiri terrorists.
Masum, on Wednesday, dismissed accusations leveled by some regional countries, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, that the Popular Mobilization Forces are bent on a sectarian agenda, saying that the allegations are baseless and politically-motivated.
The Shia-dominated organization, composed of some 40 volunteer groups, was formed by the Iraqi government in mid-June 2014, two days after top Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani issued a fatwa (religious edict) urging people to defend Iraqi cities against Daesh. Five days earlier, on June 10, the terror group had overrun Mosul, the country’s second largest city.
The Iraqi president also appreciated volunteers’ major role in combating Daesh, stressing that the forces are under supervision of Iraqi commander-in-chief of the armed forces.
Masum further said that although volunteer forces and Peshmerga would participate in the battle for liberating Mosul, they would not enter the city because of some sensitivity. He added that some of the volunteers would be incorporated into the country’s military and security apparatus once Daesh was defeated and stability restored.
In late February, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi also slammed comments made by the UAE foreign minister about volunteer forces, saying they have fought alongside the army against Daesh militants.
The remarks came after UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan compared Iraq’s volunteer forces to the Daesh and al-Nusra Front, saying they must be eliminated like the Takfiri militants. Abadi expressed shock over the analogy, saying the popular units are affiliated with his office and chief of staff of the armed forces.
The Iraqi government has announced that it is preparing to conduct a major operation to liberate Mosul. It has already deployed thousands of soldiers at an army base in northern Iraq.
Violence has plagued the northern and western parts of Iraq since the Daesh offensive in June 2014.