Iraq: Trump slams Iran, but Iran-backed Militias are key to taking Talafar from ISIL

by Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Shiite popular mobilization units (Iran-backed militias) have played a key role in taking of the northern city of Talafar from ISIL. The ninth armored division of the regular army and the military’s counter-terrorism brigandes have also played an important role. A government spokesman said that only 5% of the city center remains in the hands of Daesh (ISIL, IS, ISIS). The government has also captured the city’s citadel.

Iraqi government spokesman Yahya Rasul said that the neighborhoods in the north of the largely Turkmen city still under Daesh / ISIL control included al-Muthanna al-Awwal, al-`Askari, and al-Sina`a. Some 27 other neighborhoods in the city have been liberated.

The military campaign continues to liberate the remaining 30% of the city and its environs still in Daesh hands.

On Friday, the Shiite militias had discovered a major Daesh/ ISIL weapons stockpile.

The Shiite militias had been kept out of the battle for Mosul, except to the degree that they surrounded it to the West and north and prevented Daesh fighters from escaping to Syria. Because Mosul is a largely Sunni Arab city with a proud Sunni heritage, having it conquered by the Shiite militias would have been problematic. Talafar, however, has a significant Shiite community and it used, as least, to be the majority, and so the same sensitivities are not there in this campaign.

The Sunni Arab Gulf press is complaining about Iraqi Prime Minister Haydar al-Abadi’s deployment of these Shiite militias, saying that even Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr disapproved of them playing a leading role in the assault.

In past campaigns by the popular mobilization units in Sunni areas, there have been reprisal killings and village massacres, making these militias anathema in the largely Sunni Gulf. Al-Khaleej in the UAE says that Iranian leader Ali Khamenei hailed the militias in ways that make it clear he views them as a pro-Iran force he can use to intervene in Iraqi affairs.

However upset the Sunni Arab monarchies in the Gulf might be, the Shiite militias are prominent in the Talafar campaign, and it is clear that Iran is happy enough with their role.

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Related video:

AFP: “Iraq retakes Tal Afar centre, citadel from IS”

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4 Responses

  1. Trump is carrying on the demonizing of Iran. perhaps doing the bidding of Saudi Arabia and Israel. Unable to destroy the Iran nuclear deal, since it has been admitted that Iran is adhering to the rules, the axis of evil continues their hammering of Iran, while they themselves are guilty of death and destruction. The hypocrisy is loud and clear.

  2. Supermarkets and other such places play music selected to encourage customers to buy. Trump is much the same, slamming Iran makes his supporters feel on familiar ground. Demonising Assad used to have a like effect, his name never mentioned without a prefix like ‘butcher’ or suffix referencing ‘gassing his own people’. He is somewhat off the hook now since years of huffing and puffing failed to blow his house down, but Iran plays just as well. Trump’s utterances are rarely designed to convey real information, their purpose is to provoke feelings in his base, essentially those that cast a glow on him, letting his supporters go back to sleep feeling all’s well with the world.

    • Al-Assad is a butcher; the reason he is off the hook in Trump admin. is that Russia backed him and the Neo-Fascists track with Russia. Listen to Congress and you get the old story.

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