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Iraqi-Sunni militia comes under Kurdish command for Mosul battle

Hashd al-Watani militia will take orders from Kurdish forces in Iraq's Battle for Mosul

Date of publication: 5 October, 2016

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Iraqi Sunni fighters will take orders from the Kurdish Peshmerga as preparations for Iraq's impending Battle for Mosul fall into place.
An Iraqi Sunni militia will come under the command of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in the upcoming offensive to retake Mosul from the Islamic State group.

The Hashd al-Watani (the National Mobilisation) will take orders from Peshmerga fighters during the battle to oust the extremist group from Iraq's second city.

"All the plans have been put in place, and there is a formal decision for the Hashd al-Watani militia to be mixed with the Peshmerga forces in the Mosul war," Zuhair Hazin Jabouri, a spokesman for Hashd al-Watani, told Kurdistan-Iraq based Rudaw news agency.

"The Hashd al-Watani is to receive its commands from the Peshmerga forces during the war," Jabouri added.

The pro-Baghdad army, backed by a US-led international coalition and the Popular Mobilisation Forces, are due to launch their offensive to retake Mosul - IS' last stronghold in the country - before the end of the year.

The possible participation of Shia militias in liberating the Sunni-majority city caused concerns following reprisal attacks on civilians in Fallujah.

In discussions between Erbil, Baghdad and the US-led coalition, it was decided that Shia militia force would not enter Mosul following its liberation in order to mitigate fears of sectarian violence.

As well as Iraqi forces, a 15,000-strong Sunni force recruited from local tribes will help to stabilise Mosul instead, US Deputy Decretary of State Antony Blinken said last week.

Washington is also sending 600 more troops to support the battle, bringing the total number of US troops on Iraqi soil to more than 5,000.

Kurdish forces are currently positioned 10km from Mosul, located in Iraq's north-western Ninevah province.

The Peshmerga have written to UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon requesting the urgent delivery of equipment to protect them from chemical weapons attacks.

Meanwhile Iraq and Turkey are locked in a war of words over the involvement of Shia militias, with Baghdad complaining about President Erdogan's "racist" and "sectarian" comments.

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