The Iraqi government continues to ignore warnings made by the international community and human rights groups about the involvement of Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi militia in the battle to liberate Fallujah from ISIS. Warnings about extremist groups exploiting the battle for sectarian purposes have also been ignored.
Many Iraqi parties are becoming increasingly exasperated with the torture and arrest of residents of Fallujah under the pretence that they are members of ISIS. The parties pointed out that this charge is a pretext that Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi militia are using to kill the people of Fallujah.
The city of Fallujah and its southern areas in particular have been bombed by coalition aircraft. Military operations on the ground, arson, destruction and looting carried out by soldiers in the militias have also been taking place.
The Mayor of Fallujah Isa Sayer Al-Issawi told Asharq Al-Awsat that “Fallujah’s infrastructure has been greatly damaged”. He added that Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi soldiers have committed acts of arson, crimes and violations and destroyed houses and shops. He continued by saying that what is currently happening in the city is causing catastrophic damage in it and that he has informed senior leaders of these violations but that there is no deterrent.
Al-Issawi also pointed out that many homes were demolished by military operations in the city during and after its liberation from the grip of ISIS, and that a series of air strikes carried out by the international coalition’s aircraft before security forces entered the city caused the destruction of large areas of residential neighbourhoods. Barrel bombs were also dropped on the city for months until military operations began and security forces entered the city in order to liberate it from ISIS.
Al-Issawi said that “Many buildings in the city of Fallujah have been razed to the ground or damaged beyond repair. Other facilities such as the sports stadium were badly damaged and dozens of homes were burned down”. He pointed out that the damage caused was extensive and that reconstruction will take a long time. He also added that militias continue to loot homes and public facilities, commit acts of arson and carry out bombings.