Iraq has recently been loathe to deploy too many Shi’ite militias into the Anbar Province, fearing a rise in sectarian unrest. Yet the loss of the Anbar capital of Ramadi to ISIS appears to have changed their minds.
Now, Prime Minister Abadi is calling for the Shi’ites to “rescue” Ramadi after the rout of the Iraqi military, one of the highest profile defeats they’ve sustained in months.
Some 3,000 Shi’ite fighters have arrived in Anbar to take part in a battle for the “liberation” of the capital, though ISIS fighters are already advancing on a military camp where they are massing.
The Shi’ite militias have proven more effective than the Iraqi military at fighting ISIS, but their victories often fuel new sectarian problems as they carry out bloody crackdowns on the Sunni locals they believe are “ISIS sympathizers” after such major battles.