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Iraq’s Muqtata al-Sadr Speaks Out Against Alleged PMU Attacks On Foreign Missions

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Iraq's Muqtata al-Sadr Speaks Out Against Alleged PMU Attacks On Foreign Missions

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On September 23th, influential Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr condemned recent activities by some groups that are part of the Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Units (PMU)).

In a tweet late on the day, Sadr said:

“What some armed groups affiliated with the Hashd al-Shaabi [PMF] are doing is weakening Iraq, its people and country, and weakening these three aspects means strengthening the external forces, on top of the list is the great evil America.”

He added, “It is necessary to seek wisely and deliberately to end making Iraq an arena for the struggle of others and to strive together for the independence, sovereignty, peace, security of Iraq, or Iraq will be shifted away from our hands.”

In addition, al-Sadr accused the militants of political killings at the behest of another state.

The statement was made immediately after one of the Hashd Shaabi gangs took responsibility for the explosion of an IED, the purpose of which was to destroy a convoy of an Iraqi company carrying out an order from the British military.

The statement was also made against the background of an increase in the number of attacks on foreign military targets in Iraq in recent months.

In addition to Al-Sadr, the President and Prime Minister of Iraq also condemned Hashd Shaabi.

The PMU are mostly composed of armed Shiite factions that were trained to fight ISIS in 2014 and formally affiliated with the Iraqi armed forces.

Some PMU factions, however, respond only to the orders of leaders close to Iran, according to media.

The PMU have denied allegations of attacks on foreign military personnel, shelling of Baghdad’s Green Zone and killing of activists. Also, a representative said that the PMU receives no support from abroad.

Sadr’s statements also appear to accuse some PMU factions of being behind the assassination of activists who participated in protests against political elite that are accused of corruption and collaboration with foreign countries, particularly Iran.

“We, in turn, renew the demand for non-interference in Iraq’s internal affairs from all parties. We also emphasise peace in all dealings, as Iraq can no longer endure more violence, wars, clashes, political conflicts and riots,” Sadr said.

The Shia cleric expressed on September 18 his rejection of the operations targeting foreign missions in the country, following their escalation during the past weeks.

He said in a tweet at the time, “It’s not for Iraq’s interest to drag the country into a dark tunnel and into the furnace of violence.”

“It’s not for Iraq’s interest to target cultural and diplomatic headquarters, “he said, adding that “political and parliamentary means can be followed to end the occupation and prevent their interference, and those who attack the headquarters are exposing Iraq and its people to the imminent danger.”

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi promised to hold the killers of demonstrators accountable and made surprise visits to numerous prisons to find out whether they included detainees from the protest movement.

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