The goals pursued by Shiite militia groups associated to Iran and the Revolutionary Guards Quds Force in their presence in the Fallujah operations is no longer a mystery for anyone. The sectarian nature of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) and other Shiite militia groups and their approach vis-à-vis the residents of the towns of Garma, Saqlawiya and locals in Fallujah who were able to flee from ISIS control have made it crystal clear the objectives they are following in the Fallujah operations of seeking vengeance against the Sunni community. This has raised major protests and resulted in deep concerns amongst Arab and regional states over the role played by Iran-backed Shiite militia groups in the Fallujah operations. On the other hand, the public announcement made by Hadi al-Ameri and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in various press conferences of Fallujah being liberated by PMU forces showed that the PMU and Shiite militias are the main parties involved in the Fallujah operations. Al-Ameri had previously announced the PMU mission will finalize following the Fallujah operations. More recently, however, he has said, “After we have ensured that all non-civilians have exited Fallujah we will attack the city and no one will stop us. No one can liberate Fallujah without PMU participation.”
At a time when Fallujah residents were seeking to exit the city and head towards safe areas, the PMU were seen abducting and placing many of them under horrific tortures and summary executions. The PMU have told the Fallujah locals, ‘We have come to this region to avenge those killed in Spyker and Saqlawiya. This revenge will begin with Shiite forces entering the city of Fallujah,’ according to locals and eyewitnesses.
PMU and Shiite militia commanders have officially announced they have arrested a large number of ISIS forces hidden amongst the residents. This is paving the path of execution and taking revenge on the Fallujah locals.
With protests expanding and various countries taking harsh positions against the PMU’s measures in murdering and massacring Fallujah residents, these Shiite militia groups staged a temporary withdrawal from Fallujah operational areas in an attempt to prevent their crimes from being exposed.
The Quds Force immediately agreed with the PMU and Shiite militia groups retreating from Fallujah operational areas. A Quds Force commander justified such a move in his remarks by saying considering the crimes taken place by the PMU in Fallujah, if we insist on remaining in these areas the use of these units in Mosul will be undermined. Therefore, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis immediately ordered the retreat of all PMU and Shiite militia forces from Fallujah.
Currently a large portion of the PMU and Shiite militia forces have transferred to the Baghdad beltway and Abu Ghareib areas after committing horrific crimes against Fallujah residents. A small portion have remained near the Fallujah operational areas, preparing their units for future sectarian killings.
In April 2015 Hadi al-Ameri and other Shiite militia commanders launched an all-out sectarian war in Salahadin under the pretext of battling ISIS. Long before attacking Salahadin Province and the city of Tikrit, al-Ameri had told all the Shiite militia and PMU commanders, “A vengeance operation is in the agenda, and prepare yourselves to avenge the blood spilled in Karbala, Najaf and other cities in the south during the years of the former (Saddam) government. Remember that Shiites were massacred in Fort Spyker. Therefore, the Salahadin operation is aimed at avenging the blood spilled from Shiites in Fort Spyker. As a result, in the attack have no reservation and open your path forward by spilling blood.”
In the early days of the Salahadin operations, Shiite militias and PMU forces involved began arresting and killing the locals, setting their homes ablaze and plundering their property. The PMU and Shiite militias were instructed by al-Ameri to claim ISIS has set all the homes ablaze during their retreat.
Al-Ameri had time and again said in various fronts, “Sunnis must be killed during your advances, with the motivation of avenging their actions during the former government, and the deaths of Shiite college students in Fort Spyker. Sunnis are the same as ISIS. Any citizen in ISIS-controlled areas is no different from ISIS. Therefore, in our advance we have nothing known as the people or locals. ISIS is all that there is, and it must be destroyed.”
During the Salahadin and Tikrit operations al-Ameri had instructed the Shiite militia and PMU forces regarding Sunni locals in ISIS-controlled areas, “To this day we have warned the citizens many times to evacuate the area. Therefore, if you are faced with an individual during your advance, claiming to be an ordinary citizen, do not believe them, they are ISIS members, spill their blood and continue on your path. The path to Mosul is opened only through spilling the blood of Sunnis.”