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Senior Iraqi politician rebukes arbitrary arrest of PMU official

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Head of Fatah (Conquest) Alliance at the Iraqi parliament Hadi al-Amiri (File photo by Alsumaria)

A top Iraqi lawmaker has said plots to undermine the anti-terror Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) amount to attempts to weaken the entirety of Iraq, making a reference to the arbitrary arrest of a senior official with the PMU earlier this week.

In a statement on Thursday, Hadi al-Amiri, head of Fatah (Conquest) Alliance at the Iraqi parliament, said that the PMU built the prestige of the Arab country with its pure blood, noting that those who try to undermine the PMU under any pretext are the ones who undermine the country.

On Wednesday, Iraqi security forces reportedly arrested Qasim Muslih, a senior official with the PMU, which is also known in Iraq as Hashd al-Sha'abi, in Baghdad on charges of involvement in several attacks including recent attacks on Ain al-Asad air base, which hosts US forces.

The PMU forces played a key role in the defeat of Daesh and other terrorist groups in Iraq, but the US government has targeted their positions on several occasions.

Muslih’s arrest immediately drew a sharp rebuke from Iraqi people, resistance groups and political activists.

Al-Amiri said those who arrest individuals illegally and without arrest warrants want to circumvent the Iraqi Judiciary and do not notice the separation of powers stipulated in the constitution, Iraq’s Alsumaria news website reported.

“The Judiciary and the security services cannot be reduced to one person,” he warned.

“There are some wrong practices such as arrests without arrest warrants, and there are methods of torture that we can never accept,” he said, adding that such practices are the first step toward returning to “dictatorship”.

Al-Amiri, however, voiced hope that serving the Iraqi government and people would be “our starting point and the basis of our unity.”

On Monday afternoon, a barrage of rockets landed in Ain al-Asad air base, located about 160 kilometers (100 miles) west of the capital Baghdad.

A Telegram news channel associated with the PMU said at least five 122mm projectiles had hit “sensitive targets” inside the air base.

Ain al-Asad has been targeted several times since Iran launched a barrage of missiles at the base on January 8, 2020, as part of its retaliation for the US assassination of top anti-terror commander General Qassem Soleimani.  


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