Last week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declared the ISIS fight in Iraq to be over, and demanded that Iraq’s Shi’ite militias “go home to Iran” or disarm, even though the groups are legally structured as part of Iraq’s security forces.
Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy leader of the government ministry in charge of the militias and the leader of the Hezbollah Brigades, was the latest to rule out such a move, saying Monday that the groups will stay in Iraq.
“The future of the PMF is to defend Iraq,” Muhandis insisted, saying that the Iraqi army and police are unable to operate without the support of the militia forces. He described the militias as a “parallel military” for Iraq.
Iraq has used the militias repeatedly in military operations, with such forces doing heavy lifting in the ISIS war, and having since participated in the invasion of Iraqi Kurdistan. The groups have proven controversial because of their tendancy to participate in extra-legal kidnappings, torture, and execution, and because their influence tends to mean Iraq’s government is unwilling to police them.
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