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US, Turkey, KRG against Hashd Sha’abi inclusion in Tal Afar battle: Cmdr.

Members of the Iraqi pro-government Popular Mobilization Units (Hashd al-Sha’abi) gather in a street in the modern town of Hatra southwest of the northern city of Mosul on April 28, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

A high-ranking commander of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) has described the United States and Turkey as the major parties opposed to the inclusion of the pro-government Iraqi forces in the forthcoming operation to liberate the northern city of Tal Afar from Daesh terrorists.

Jawad al-Talibawi, spokesman for the Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq volunteer forces, told Lebanon-based al-Mayadeen television news network on Thursday that US and Turkish statesmen together with senior officials from Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), particularly Masoud Barzani, have voiced strong opposition to the involvement of the PMU fighters, commonly known by the Arabic name Hashd al-Sha’abi, in the offensive to retake Tal Afar, located 63 kilometers west of Mosul.

Talibawi added that red lines have been set for Hashd al-Sha’abi on Tal Afar liberation operation, alleging that the basic units of the pro-government volunteer force have received orders not to take part in the battle.

He further noted that the PMU is an integral part of the Iraqi military system; nevertheless, there are external objections to its role.

“We are confident that there are Arab and foreign officers in Tal Afar, so our participation in the forthcoming operation will expose the facts that several parties have long sought to hide,” Talibawi pointed out.

Jawad al-Talibawi, spokesman for the Iraqi Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq volunteer forces

The top Hashd al-Sha’abi commander later called on Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to stand by his words, and include the pro-government fighters in the Tal Afar liberation operation.

Commander of Nineveh Liberation Operations, Major General Najim Abdullah al-Jubouri, told Reuters in an interview on July 30 that he expected a relatively easy victory for government forces in the forthcoming operation to retake Tal Afar from Daesh as the extremists were “worn out and demoralized."

“I don't expect it will be a fierce battle even though the enemy is surrounded. The enemy is very worn out. I know from the intelligence reports that their morale is low,” he commented.

Commander of Nineveh Liberation Operations, Major General Najim Abdullah al-Jubouri, speaks during an interview with Reuters in Mosul, Iraq, on July 30, 2017.

Jubouri estimated that there were between 1,500 and 2,000 Daesh terrorists left in Tal Afar. He highlighted that the battle for Tal Afar was set to start soon, and was waiting for orders from Abadi, which would probably be issued within the next few “days or a week or two.”

Speaking at a youth meeting on Saturday, Abadi said Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters would take part in the offensive to win back Tal Afar.

He said the army and security commanders had devised a plan to dislodge Daesh from Tal Afar, which required the participation of security personnel as well as Hashd al-Sha’abi and tribal fighters.

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