|A member from Hashid Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces) holds a picture of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (L) and Iraq's top Shi'ite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani (R) in Baghdad March 31, 2015. (Reuters)|
ISIS vs. Iran
Call me "crazy" but I want no part of this mess.
(Business Insider) - Iranian-backed Shia militias are preparing to launch an operation to retake Fallujah, a Sunni-dominated city in Iraq, from the Islamic State terror group, Loveday Morris of the Washington Post reports.
And it looks like it's going to get messy.
While Fallujah's proximity to Baghdad, Iraq's capital, makes it strategically important for the Iraqi government, sending in militias that have been known to burn down Sunni villages might not pay off in the long run.
Eissa al-Issawi, the head of Fallujah’s local council, told the Post that if the Shia militias are allowed to lead the charge to retake the city from Islamic State (aka ISIS, ISIL, Daesh), "there would be much destruction, and much blood."
|A posted map showing ISIS surrounded in Fallujah|
US Marines fought the bloodiest battle of the Iraq war in Fallujah in 2004.
"Then fighting the Islamic State’s predecessor, the group known as al-Qaeda in Iraq, Marines fought street to street, contending with sniper fire, roadside bombs and booby-trapped buildings," Morris notes.
ISIS captured Fallujah in January 2014, and is consequently entrenched in the city. And the Iran-backed militias don't have the best track record: They struggled to oust a much smaller group of ISIS militants from the town of Tikrit and the US had to provide air cover to finish the siege.
Some residents want to leave Fallujah to escape the upcoming fight between ISIS and the Shia militias, but that doesn't seem possible.
A 29-year-old resident told the Post: "There’s a state of terror. We know there will be an assault, we want to leave, but Islamic State doesn’t let anyone leave. They want to use us as human shields."
And it's not just ISIS the civilians have to worry about.
The Shia militias, backed by Iran, are apparently close to running amok. Michael Pregent, a former US intelligence officer and military adviser to the Iraqi security forces, wrote this week that the Shia-led government in Baghdad might have little control over the militias it allows to fight the Islamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIL, and Daesh).
"The introduction of Shia militias into Sunni areas has a polarizing effect on the Sunni population," Pregent told Business Insider via email.
"They will be wearing green bandanas and have [Iranian Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei posters on their windshields and they are intentionally sending a message to the Sunni population [that] 'things have changed and we are now in control,' meaning Iranian-backed Shia militias now run the security and political apparatus."Read More . . . .
Iraq's Mahdi Army militia paraded through the streets of Baghdad's Sadr City district, heeding a call from Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to defend holy sites.
Iraq War 2015