Coalition spokesman: Shia militias benefiting from anti-ISIS airstrikes in Iraq

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Iraqi pro-government Shia fighters of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) seen during clashes with ISIS near Fallujah. File photo: AFP

ARA News

Erbil – The Official Spokesman of the US-led coalition said that the Shia-led Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) are indirectly benefiting from air strikes near Tal Afar, in northwestern Iraq.

“We do conduct air strikes against ISIS targets anywhere they can be found in Iraq,” Colonel John Dorian, spokesman for the international coalition told ARA News. “We continue to strike their fighters and resources and in many cases this has proven incidental benefit to PMU since they operate near and around Tal Afar,” he stated.

The US-led coalition said they will follow the Iraqi government plan for Mosul.

“The PMU are operating under the command and control of the government of Iraq and executing Iraqi plan. They blocked the access routes from Mosul to Syria, and this is a good thing because this traps ISIS in Mosul,” Colonel Dorian said in response to a question by ARA News reporter about the PMU’s role in the fight against ISIS.

Colonel Joseph Scrocca, the coalition’s Director of Public Affairs, also confirmed their support to the Iraqi government’s plan with regard to Mosul.

“We are supportive of the plan that the government of Iraq has come up with. That includes the PMU forces moving into these areas and not into the city of Mosul,” Colonel Scrocca told ARA News.

“However, the coalition only supports forces that are under the command and control of the Iraqi government,” the director said.

The PMU have encircled Mosul and are getting closer to the town of Tal Afar. However, their operation has slowed down due to weather conditions.

The PMU have faced criticism for alleged human rights abuses against Sunni Arabs and as a result the US-led coalition did not want the group to enter Mosul city itself. However, the PMU refused the accusations and said they are a non-sectarian force that also includes Sunni Arabs.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News 

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