Published On: Mon, Jan 9th, 2017

Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units Block US Troops’ Access to Area in Salahuddin

 nsnbc : The  Iraqi Joint Operations Command reported late Sunday that a militia affiliated with al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Units) denied U.S. troops access to an area in Iraq’s Salahuddin province.

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A unit of U.S. troops was reportedly en route to an area in Iraq’s Salahuddin province for training purposes when they was blocked by a militia affiliated with al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Units).

The U.S. troops were accompanying Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service personnel for a training on sniping and artillery reported the Joint Operations Command. It is the second incident of that nature in two days.

On Saturday, Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) spokesman, Ahmed al-Assadi said fighters from Hezbollah al-Nojabaa obstructed a U.S. force at the Makhoul mountains area because the militia was not notified of their arrival. He said contacts were made with the army command in Salahuddin who ordered the regiment to retreat to an earlier location.

A US-led coalition is backing Iraqi forces and allied militias with an aerial cover in the ongoing battles with Islamic State militants. The Iraqi government has reiterated that coalition forces on the ground were merely intended for consultation and training purposes.

PMUs were formed in 2014 in line with an edict made by Iraq’s top Shia clergy to combat Islamic State militants who had taken over large areas of the country to establish a self-proclaimed “Islamic Caliphate”. They have been actively involved in a major campaign was been running to retake IS’s last major stronghold, Mosul, since mid October 2016.

Tensions between U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq and PMUs have been expected by many analysts, and for several reasons. The three primary reasons is the well-documented support of the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) by intelligence and deep state structures in the USA, Turkey and other NATO member States.

Another reason is sustained and growing U.S. support for the establishment of an independent Kurdish State in northern Iraq. In this regard it is noteworthy that the KDP, the ruling party in Iraq’s Kurdistan Autonomous Region, is actively supporting the Iranian – Kurdish KDP-I in their attacks against Iranian Revolutionary Guard units in northwestern Iran. Finally, it is worth mentioning that the PMU’s, although they also are based on tribal structures, are closely allied to Iran.

CH/L – nsnbc 09.01.2016

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