Iraq’s transport minister heading force to break siege of Amerli

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Azzaman, August 24, 2014

A militia force of nearly 2,000 fighters is heading towards Amerli to save its more than 18,000 inhabitants from a possible massacre by Jihadits from the Islamic State who are encircling the town.

The force commanded by Transport Minister Hadi al-Ameri is reported to have already engaged in fighting militants from the Islamic State or IS. Previous attempts by Iraqi troops failed to dislodge IS from positions around the town.

Conditions in the town, home to Iraqi Turkmen, are reported to be worsening with acute shortages of food, health supplies and other essentials.

The government fears once IS, formerly known as ISIS, enters the town its militants will commit a massacre because the inhabitants are Muslim Shiites whom they see as apostates.

The force by Ameri, who is the commander of the military wing of a Shiite faction known as Badr forces, is the first serious attempt by the government to break Amerli’s siege.

The inhabitants now live on the meager air drops government helicopters ferry to them.

Reports from inside Amerli speak of a population gripped by fear and of women vowing to commit suicide than allow IS jihadist to take them into captivity.

The United Nations has already issued a warning of a possible massacre if IS Jihadists enter the town.

Amerli is one of the few towns in Iraq whose inhabitants have defied IS for such a long period, repelling repeated attacks to take the town.

The other town under siege is Haditha, whose Sunni Muslim inhabitants have prevented IS from entering it and driven them away from the Haditha Dam, Iraq’s second largest after the Mosul Dam.