The Iraqi Vice President Dr. Ayad Allawi has held a press conference in Babel Province of southern Iraq revealing how for more than 2½ years following the liberation of the town of Jerf al-Sakhar from Daesh (ISIS/ISIL), Iran has continued to prevent its residents from returning to their own homes. Allawi cited commanders of the Hashad al-Shabi, a conglomerate of Iraqi Shi’ite militias established with support from Iran, saying they are under Iran’s direct control and pointing to how one of their commanders had even gone to Iran for talks regarding the displaced Iraqis (Al Jazeera TV, 3 May 2017).
Jerf al-Sakhar is located in the north of Babel Province (south of Baghdad) and links Iraq’s western, central and southern provinces. The town is considered a strategic site and Iran is seeking to strengthen its control over the region. The town and its outskirts boasted a population of around 120,000 people prior to the arrival of the Iranian militias. However, following its liberation from Daesh in October 2014, the Shi’ite militias forced all locals to leave the town. Iraqi Hezbollah, who now control the town, have prevented people from returning to their homes.
The Shi’ite militias have also detained Sunni hostages from other Iraqi cities in Jerf al-Sakhar, according to Dr. Ahmed al-Massari, head of the Iraqi Forces coalition in the Iraqi Parliament, who says he has informed Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi about this issue. (Bisma Press, 27 April 2017).
According to the al-Khaleej Online website of 31 May 2016: “Shi’ite militias associated with Hashad al-Shabi have turned Jerf al-Sakhar into a prison for hundreds of innocent citizens of al-Anbar Province and other areas of Iraq. Around 15,000 Iraqi Sunnis have been imprisoned in their homes and orchards in this area by Hashad al-Shabi militants; they are subjected to torture and many are being murdered with their bodies being found in local abandoned homes and washed up on riverbanks.”
The al-Khalij Online reporter interviewed a prisoner who was released by the militants after his family paid a ransom of $50,000. The former hostage said hundreds of people are imprisoned in their homes in Jerf al-Sakhar or in underground tunnels. He said they are being tortured often to death by the militias under the supervision of black-turbaned mullahs; to this day hundreds of prisoners have been killed under torture, he claimed.
The Obama administration’s policy of appeasement of the Iranian regime, allowed them to turn a blind-eye to the crimes being committed by the brutal Iraqi militias and paved the way for those militias to carry out a campaign of genocide against the Sunni population of al-Anbar, Fallujah, Salahadin and Mosul in the name of fighting Daesh. The US even misguidedly provided air support for these forces, enabling them to redouble their efforts supported by the Iraqi Army and government.
Now, in a final gesture of defiance to the West, Iran’s mullahs have organized these militias into the notorious Hashad al-Shabi movement, establishing it as an official organ of the Iraqi government. As a result, Hashad al-Shabi enjoys official Iraqi government funding while advancing Iranian policies, provoking religious wars and threatening the security of countries in the zone including Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. This group is also now sending militants to support the blood-soaked regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria and is involved in the killings of Syrian civilians.
The crimes of these militias, condemned time and again by international organizations, simply fuels Daesh and other terrorist and fundamentalist groups who claim they are the only people able to protect the besieged Sunnis.
In an interview on 1 April 2017 with the Iranian state-run Ofogh TV, Hashad al-Shabi’s commanding officer – Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes – claimed proudly that he is a soldier under the command of the Iranian IRGC’s Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani, carrying out orders issued directly by the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA) strongly condemns the crimes of the Shi’ite militias linked to Iran’s IRGC against the people of Jerf al-Sakhar and other Iraqi areas who have been victims of Daesh. The EIFA calls on the UN and US to impel the Iraqi government to stop Hashad al-Shabi’s crimes and dissolve this and all other Iraqi Shi’ite militias.