Shia militiamen amass west of Daesh-held Mosul
Move sparks fears of sectarian tension, conflict in ethnically-diverse city
Ali Sheikho and Ali Jawad
Thousands of Hashd al-Shaabi militiamen have amassed to the west of Mosul amid preparations to help retake the city from the Daesh terrorist group, a Hashd al-Shaabi leader announced Tuesday.
Jawad al-Talebawi, a spokesman for the Asaib Ahl al-Haq, a militant faction within the Hashd al-Shaabi, told Anadolu Agency that the group was preparing to launch "a major operation to free the Tel Afar district [west of Mosul] from Daesh and cut the road linking the city to Syria".
"We’re ready," al-Talebawi said. "We’re just waiting for the Hashd al-Shaabi leadership to give the go-ahead."
Established in 2014, the Hashd al-Shaabi is an umbrella group of pro-government Shia militias drawn up specifically to fight Daesh.
According to al-Talebawi, the Hashd al-Shaabi leadership has specifically tasked the Asaib Ahl al-Haq with recapturing the Tel Afar district.
Most Sunni forces participating in the campaign to free Mosul do not want the Shia Hashd al-Shaabi to play any role in the operation, fearing such a move could lead to sectarian tension -- and possibly conflict -- in the ethnically diverse city.
One week ago, Iraqi forces, backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, launched a much-anticipated offensive to retake Mosul.
Daesh’s last stronghold in northern Iraq, Mosul -- Iraq’s second largest city -- was overrun by the terrorist group in mid-2014.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.