Baghdad, Fallujah, Riyadh-Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi deliberately ignored Fallujah’s citizens’ appeals to exclude Popular Mobilization forces’ militias from the battle to free the city. Local sources confirmed that they are participating in the operation, which the Iraqi government announced on Monday.
The militias started bombarding residential buildings with bombs carrying sectarian slogans.
In a statement for Asharq Al-Awsat, Head of the Security and Defense Committee in the Iraqi Parliament and lawmaker from Anbar Province Hamid al-Mutlaq demanded halting bombardments carried out by the militias, which have killed hundreds of victims, and called on the international community to directly intervene and save the civilians.
Shelling Fallujah by the PMF militias came after MP Liqaa Wardi confirmed Asharq Al-Awsat that a deal was held with Abadi in order to keep the militias from participating in the operations.
Wardi said that leaders and parliamentarians in Anbar province have reached a political consensus on the non-participation of the PMFs in the battle to liberate Fallujah, and this was included in the deal with PM Haider al-Abadi and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces.
She added that the parties agreed on freeing the city from ISIS by the army, police, and Anbar tribal fighters only; whereas the PMF fighters were designated to stay on the outskirts of the city in order to trap ISIS militants and make sure they do not flee into Baghdad or any other Iraqi city.
“Forces affiliated with the joint operations leadership, Baghdad’s operations leadership, fighting terrorism body, Anbar Police leadership, and tribal fighters backing these forces were able to liberate the first area and its residential neighborhoods in Fallujah,” spokesman for the command of operations Brigadier General Yahya al-Zubeida told Asharq Al-Awsat.
In a common matter, an Iraqi aid official criticized the procedures imposed by Iraqi authorities that led to a delay in the arrival of urgent relief aids sent by Saudi Arabia to Anbar province.
He confirmed that these aids have been in the air cargo area for ten days now due to several problems, including imposing custom fees.
Despite that Saudi Arabia has solved this problem in Baghdad in coordination with Iraqi Ministry of Migration, these measures are still being implemented and have taken so much time, risking damaging these aids.