Iran-backed Shi’ite militia to hold off invasion of Fallujah to protect civilians

by WorldTribune Staff, June 5, 2016

An Iranian-backed Iraqi Shi’ite militia will not launch an offensive on Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) forces in Fallujah until civilians have left the city, the militia’s leader said.

Civilians who fled their homes due to clashes gather at Camp Tariq, south of Fallujah on June 4. /Reuters
Civilians who fled their homes gather at Camp Tariq, south of Fallujah on June 4. /Reuters

“We will not enter Fallujah as long as there are families inside,” said Hadi al-Amiri, leader of the Badr Organization, the largest component of the Shia paramilitary coalition known as Hashid Shaabi, or Popular Mobilization.

“Of course, we will go in and rid the city from the evil of this cancerous gland, with nobody preventing us,” he said, when asked what would happen if civilians managed to flee the Sunni city.

Saudi Arabia is protesting the role of militia sponsored by Iran in the fighting.

Commander of Fallujah Liberation Operations Lt. Gen. Abdel Wahab al-Saadi said on June 5 that ISIL fighters were offering “some resistance” but “a little less than in previous days.”

Al-Saadi said Iraqi forces are prepared to enter Fallujah after they secure the Naymiyah neighborhood south of the main city.

Iraqi forces, with air support from the U.S.-led coalition and backing from Shi’ite militias, launched the offensive to liberate Fallujah two weeks ago but have faced heavy resistance from ISIL fighters and concerns about the presence of some 50,000 civilians remaining in the city, many being used as human shields by ISIL.

The city is one of the last strongholds in Iraq for ISIL, which also controls the country’s second-largest city, Mosul.