Sunni tribes turn against Islamic State militants in central Iraq


Azzaman, February 10, 2015

Iraqi Sunni tribes say they have killed a militant leader from Islamic State or ISIS in the predominantly Sunni Province of Anbar.

The killing of the unidentified leader along with eight of his assistants was carried out by fighters from the tribes of Aljaghafiya and Albunamir. Both tribes saw hundreds of their men summarily executed by the jihadist group for aiding Iraqi army’s offensive to purge the province of its militants.

Military sources say the tribal fighting force has made “big successes” in its operation to contain and destroy the jihadists “who pose a danger to the area.”

Brigadier Arak al-Fahdawi said U.S. and allied warplanes were aiding the tribal force in its fight against Islamic State and helped it “liberate a stretch of highway extending for 100 kilometers, linking the town of Baiji with the (capital) of the Province of Salahudeen.”

Despite the reported military gains, there are reports of human rights violations in areas purged of militants.

The head of Anbar’s provincial council Sabah Karhout spoke of what he said were “violations carried by undisciplined elements” from militias locally known as ‘popular volunteers’.

The volunteers are predominantly Shiites and part of a force which emerged following the occupation by Islamic State of large swaths of territory in the northern and western parts of Iraq.

“The (provincial) council (of Anbar) fears the execution of yet another massacre,” said Karhout, referring to the reported killing of scores of Sunnis in villages wrested from Islamic State in the Province of Diyala.

Karhout said Anbar was not in need of Shiite volunteers since its Sunni tribes along with the armed forces were shouldering the fight against ISIS.

However, a spokesperson for the Shiite volunteer force denied his men’s involvement in any violations of human rights.

“Our volunteer force has nothing to do with reported violations,” said Hadi al-Ameri, a senior leader of the Bardr Organization, a major Shiite political faction with its own armed militia wing.