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Peshmerga commander near Kirkuk criticizes Shia militias, will they fight?

The Peshmerga (military of Iraqi Kurdistan) and the Popular Mobilization Units (largely Shia militias established to fight Daesh) are currently working together to fight Daesh (ISIS) in Hawija, near Kirkuk, Iraq.

But things don't always go so smoothly when the two work together, and one Peshmerga commander recently criticized the Popular Mobilization Units . "The problem is Hashd al-Shaabi (the Arabic name for the Popular Mobilization Units) wants to impose themselves on all front lines. They want to attack with Peshmerga from almost all front lines," Col. Shwan Hamagharib told Kurdistan 24 west of Kirkuk.

"We definitely reject this imposition," he continued in his interview with the Erbil-based news agency. "Hashd al-Shaabi has a characteristic of imposing themselves anywhere they enter. They don't leave the area after its liberation."

Sunni groups are fighting to retake Hawija as well.

Hamagharib's comments don't demonstrate a conflict between the Peshmerga and the Popular Mobilization Units. However, they do show that the two are not always on the same page.

One Peshmerga soldier told Al Bawaba he thinks they and the Popular Mobilization Units may fight one another after (if) Daesh is defeated in Iraq.

"The Peshmerga have conquered a lot of land while fighting ISIS that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) plans to keep, even though Baghdad has complained about this", said Mike, a volunteer in a Peshmerga unit north of Mosul also known by his Instagram handle @peshmerganor , to Al Bawaba.

"The Shiite (Shia) militias are under Baghdad's command, so there is a possibility they will use these militias against us."

A Peshmerga commander also told Rudaw in September he thinks the Popular Mobilization Units are making plans to attack Kurds , but the Popular Mobilization Units vehemntly rejected the comments, which were based on an alleged statement by just one militia member.

The Popular Mobilization Units were established by the Iraqi government in 2014 to fight Daesh. And Kirkuk, for example, is claimed by both the Iraqi and government and the KRG.

It's not like they haven't clashed in the past either. In April, fighting broke out between the Peshmerga and the Popular Mobilization Units in Tuz Khormato over control of the city.

However, tensions aside, there is no armed conflict between the Peshmerga and the Popular Mobilization Units at the moment.

The Iraqi army is currently focused on retaking Mosul -- Daesh's biggest city --from the militant organization. Iraq may soon find itself largely free of Daesh. Those hoping for security in the nation hope the Peshmerga-Popular Mobilization Units cooperation continues after Hawija, Mosul and beyond.

Adam Lucente

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Geographic Code:7IRAQ
Date:Oct 5, 2016
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