Iraqi groups 'may confront Russia'

Iraqi groups 'may confront Russia'
2 min read
05 October, 2015
Iraqi factions will return to armed action as a response to Russian intervention in both Iraq and Syria, according to a statement.
Iraqi factions may soon make a return to fighting [AFP]
Iraq's militias appear set to turn their weapons on the Russians, if local armed leaders are to be believed.

Some of the armed groups formerly active in Iraq believe the Russians are imposing an Iranian-oriented agenda, and accused Moscow of a "sectarian intervention".

"Three or four Iraqi resistance factions will conduct military operations against any Russian presence," Mohammad al-Abdullah, a leader in the Popular Movement, told al-Araby al-Jadeed.

"The situation is becoming more complex because of this [Russian-led] coalition, which a section of Iraqis see as a sectarian alliance."

Several armed groups formed in the wake of the 2003 US-led invasion, and largely ceased military operations after Washington's withdrawal.

Many became active again as sectarianism became particularly rife under the rule of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, but halted operations after the Islamic State group took over vast swathes of the country in the summer of 2014.
Three or four Iraqi resistance factions will conduct military operations against any Russian presence
- Mohammad al-Abdullah of the Popular Movement in Iraq

"Representatives of the armed factions held a meeting in northern Iraq, the first of its kind in years, and have decided to respond to the Russian coalition, through the resumption of armed attacks against any military presence of Moscow in Baghdad," a local source in Nineveh province told al-Araby.

Fouad Ali is an expert on Iraqi armed groups.

"Resistance factions remained silent over the presence of the US or the international coalition [in Iraq] because they were convinced that the current war did not carry political intentions, as it was a war against IS," he told al-Araby

"But their new mobilisation is a result of their view and conviction that [they now face a Russian] coalition aimed at serving Iran's project in Iraq and Syria."

Ali said the return of these factions would further confuse and complicate the situation, "particularly that they possess a military arsenal and trained troops".

Ali also believes that the factions "will not make a move until they are sure of the Russian presence in Iraq, similar to what happened in Syria".

These factions, he said, include the Army of the Men of the Naqshabandi Order, Ansar al-Sunna and Jaish al-Islam.

The Naqshabandi Army - the third largest armed group in Iraq - has also released a statement in which it announced the resumption of military operations:

"There are signs of aggression from Russia and its allies on the horizon these days, despite the many problems in the region.

"As soon as one [problem] is over, it is followed by another."