Politics, World, Middle East

Iraqi Sunnis reject Shia role in planned Mosul offensive

Participation of Shia militias in planned campaign to retake Daesh-held Mosul will lead to 'sectarian battle', Sunni leaders warn

21.02.2016
Iraqi Sunnis reject Shia role in planned Mosul offensive

Iraq

By Ali Jawwad and Ali Shikho

BAGHDAD

A leading member of Iraq’s Sunni-Muslim Mutahidun coalition on Sunday warned against the proposed participation of Shia militias in an anticipated offensive aimed at recapturing the northern city of Mosul from the Daesh militant group.

"The people of Nineveh [the province of which Mosul is the regional capital] fear the participation of Shia militias in the liberation of Daesh-held areas," Sajda Mohamed told Anadolu Agency.

She went on to assert that Shia militiamen had earlier committed reprisals against Sunni residents after expelling Daesh militants from the Iraqi provinces of Diyala and Salahuddin.

"Tribesmen in Nineveh and security forces are capable of liberating Mosul unaided," Mohamed said.

The Iraqi government is currently preparing a major offensive aimed at regaining control of Mosul, which fell to Daesh militants in the summer of 2014.

Prime Minister Haidar Abadi’s State of Law coalition said the country’s military leadership would decide who would participate in the planned offensive.

"Abadi’s decision will be applied despite opposition from certain political forces," coalition member Saleh Mahdi told Anadolu Agency.

On Friday, Abadi announced that pro-government Shia militiamen would be part of the campaign to retake Mosul.

The Sunni Mutahidun coalition, however, has strenuously warned against the plan.

In a statement, the coalition argued that the participation of Shia militias would turn the offensive into a "sectarian battle [between Sunnis and Shias] that will play into Daesh’s hands".

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