Iraq: Shiite militia, Iraqi forces prepare to battle Daesh in Ramadi

Published May 18th, 2015 - 06:27 GMT

Shia volunteer forces, also known as the Popular Mobilization Units, have converged on the Iraqi city of Ramadi to help security forces fight Daesh, who have reportedly seized the city.

Shia volunteer forces, one of the volunteer groups who have joined the Iraqi army to fight Daesh, were dispatched to Ramadi, after Iraq’s Prime Minister Hadi al-Ameri called on them to join the fight for driving out the militants from the provincial capital of al-Anbar.

Hadi al-Ameri, who also serves as the leader of Iraq’s Badr paramilitary group, said that he had previously suggested the participation of the Popular Mobilization Units in the process of providing security in Anbar Province. The officials in the province, however, had not taken up his offer, he added.

Ameri "holds the political representatives of Anbar responsible for the fall of Ramadi because they objected to the participation of Hashed al-Shaabi in the defence of their own people," Badr's TV channel al-Ghadeer said.

Jaafar al-Husseini, a spokesman for Keta’ib Hizbullah or Hezbollah Battalions, one of the leading Shia paramilitary groups in Iraq, also said that fighters from the group are ready to join the fight against the militants in Ramadi.

"Tomorrow, God willing, these reinforcements will continue towards Anbar and Ramadi and the start of operations to cleanse the areas recently captured by Daesh (the Arabic name of the ISIL) will be announced," Husseini said.

According to a Sunday announcement by Muhannad Haimour, the governor’s spokesman in Anbar, Ramadi has “fallen” to Daesh.

Daesh confirmed the complete seizure of the city in an online message, claiming the terrorists have taken over the 8th Brigade army base as well as tanks and missile launchers in Ramadi.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi also on Sunday ordered the Iraqi army to "hold their positions" in the strategic city in a bid to obstruct Daesh's advances.

"There is continuous air cover that will help ground troops there hold their positions while waiting for support from other forces and the Popular Mobilization Units," Saad al-Hadithi, a spokesman for the premier, said.

Reports also said that at least 500 people lost their lives in two days of fighting over the strategic city.

The northern and western parts of Iraq have been in chaos since Daesh started its campaign of terror in early June 2014.

Since then, Iraq’s army has been joined by Kurdish forces, as well as Shia and Sunni volunteers in operations to drive Daesh out of the areas they have seized.

Editor's note: This article has been edited from the source material

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