Backed by Shi’ite militias, Iraq’s military attacked the ISIS-held city of Ramadi, “liberating” it earlier this year, and also destroying virtually the entire city. But even if the streets still existed, people wouldn’t be dancing in them.
For as unwelcome as ISIS is in many of these Sunni-dominated cities, the Shi’ite militias and the Shi’ite-dominated government are no better to many, and there is growing opposition among Iraqi Shi’ites to sending their fighters to places they aren’t welcome.
“It is no use for Shi’ites to participate in the upcoming Mosul battle because the citizens hate them.” noted one Shi’ite, whose son was killed in the battle for the similarly Sunni-dominated Tikrit. Several militia leaders have expressed aversion to deployments in the Sunni area to begin with, and it’s only growing.
In many cases, the militias have been accused of violent revenge attacks against the Sunni population, so it’s understandable locals don’t welcome them with open arms. The use of the militias for offensive operations is only adding to the sectarian tension in the country.