Coalition praises Shia paramilitary forces for their fight against ISIS in Iraq

 June 4, 2017    – ARA News – The US-led coalition’s spokesman, Army Colonel Ryan Dillon, has praised the success of the Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) in the fight against ISIS in northern Iraq, despite of the disagreements between Iran and the US.

“I know that the Hashd Al-Shaabi, or, as we call them, the Popular Mobilization Units — they have, under the direction of the government of Iraq, been largely successful in their initial isolation phases of Mosul, to prevent ISIS fighters from getting into or coming out of Mosul — between Mosul and Tal Afar,” he said.

“They have since been able to conduct offensive operations around Tal Afar.  In the last week alone, they have been able to take more than 600 square kilometers of area back from ISIS, largely around Tal Afar, all the way out to the Syrian border,” Col. Dillon said.

“But the PMU are under the direction of the government of Iraq, and they’ve been largely successful in those types of — the responsibilities that have been given to them,” he stated.Moreover, the coalition spokesperson said the PMU has been very responsive to the Iraqi government, and not to Iran.

“What we have seen is that the PMU have actually been responsive to the government of Iraq, in particular. We saw a response yesterday from the PMU spokesman, specifically when asked about going into Syria, that they would take their direction from the Prime Minister Abadi and the government of Iraq, if they were told to do so,” he said.“And that’s the stance that we believe. Our formula in Iraq has been to work by, with and through the government of Iraq, and we think all parties should do exactly the same,” he concluded.

Kurds Oppose PMU Presence in Syria

Iran-backed Popular Mobilisation Units on Friday crossed the border into Syria. This comes despite repeated warnings by the Kurdish YPG leadership and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

The Kurdish-led SDF troops warned that any movement by the PMU towards the Syrian northeastern border would lead to undesired tensions.

As the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) continue their war on ISIS in northern Syria, the Iranian-supported PMU has been locked in fierce fighting against ISIS at the Iraqi side of the border.Fighters of the Iraqi Shia paramilitary PMU entered villages in the Kurdish-led Hasakah province, in northeastern Syria, local sources confirmed to ARA News.

Members of the Popular Mobilisation Units have reportedly crossed the border into Syria’s Hasakah, moving into the villages of Quseba al-Soritin and Bawardi.

“The move led to the displacement of hundreds of civilians from the two villages for fear of possible clashes between the PMU and the Kurdish forces,” media activist Azad Sleman told ARA News in Hasakah.This comes just two days after the PMU spokesman Karim al-Nouri said that their fighters are ready to cross into Syria and back the Assad government in its fight against terrorism.

According to the PMU spokesman, a remarkable shift has taken place in the nature of the fight against the ISIS as the group nears losing its final holdouts in Iraq’s northwestern Mosul city.

“By taking the border area, we have given the Syrian army the ability to comfortably advance on Raqqa,” Nouri added.

However, the Kurdish-led SDF forces have launched a major offensive against ISIS in Raqqa. The US-backed forces imposed a siege on ISIS militants inside the city, which is deemed a de facto capital for the ISIS self-proclaimed Caliphate.On Monday, the Kurdish Security Police of the Rojava Asayish held a meeting in Qamishli city, in northeastern Syria, to discuss the ‘Iranian project’, after the Iraqi Shia paramilitary Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) linked up with areas held by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

The Asayish said in a statement that a broad security meeting was held in Qamishli in the presence of the general commander of the Asayish forces, Ciwan Ibrahim, to discuss the formation of a defence system in Rojava-Northern Syria ‘to confront the Iranian project’ that is supported by the Baath regime forces and affiliated Shia groups.

According to the PMU, they reached the Iraq-Syria borders from the north of al-Ba’ah district, and from an area near Sinjar. The PMU said that the Wadi al-Midar and Taru villages [in northwestern Iraq] were liberated from ISIS, adding that 21 ISIS fighters were killed in the operation backed by the Iraqi air force. Qasim Musla, brigadier general of PMU group Liwaa Al-Toufouf, told ARA News that the Iraqi air cover facilitated their progress against ISIS near the border with Syria.