PMS is not exclusively a Shiite force: chief

The Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) is not an exclusively Shiite force, Head of the forces, Faleh al-Fayyadh, said on Sunday, January 17, pointing to the Hashd al-Ashairi (Tribal Forces) as evidence.

Fayyadh said during a memorial ceremony marking the anniversary of the martyrdom of the leaders of the Victory Alliance in Anbar that all of Iraq’s ethno-religious communities cooperated to fight Islamic State (ISIS), spilling their blood together.

“Some are ashamed of commemorating our martyrs and this is a terrible thing,” he said, stressing that the all Iraqis have “the same blood.”

On January 8, the US laid sanctions on Fayyadh, citing the PMF’s involvement in killing protesters during the protests that began in October 2019, with Secretary of State Pompeo also saying that Fayyadh was also the member of a "crisis cell".

Many of the militias that make up the PMF are seen as being Iranian proxies working through Iraq’s Shiite majority. The group is somewhat more politically and ethnically diverse, however, with critics of that view citing the role played by militias loyal to Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and those recruited from Sunni, Christian, Turkmen, and other communities.

The Hashd al-Ashairi is active is Iraq’s Sunni provinces, including Anbar, Nineveh, and Saladin.

In December, 2017, federal security forces, in cooperation with the Peshmerga and the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) and aided by Coalition airstrikes, declared victory over ISIS. Since then, the militant group has resorted to guerrilla hit-and-run tactics, but remains a potent threat in some parts of the country.

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