Iraqi Shiites Declare War on Islamic State Group
Published 12 December 2014
One of Iraq’s largest militias says it’s preparing to fight the Islamic State group.
Iraq’s most prominent Shiite militia will join the fight against the Islamic State group within hours, according to Iraqi media reports on Friday.
“Given the exceptional conditions and imminent danger to the sacred city of Samarra from the legions of terrorists, our leader (Muqtada) al-Sadr has ordered the Peace Brigades to prepare within 24 hours for jihad,” Sumaria news agency reported a top brigade leader stating, according to the Middle East Monitor.
Between 2006 and 2008, al-Sadr’s previous paramilitary group – the Jaish al-Mahdi (JAM) – was widely viewed as the most serious threat to U.S. forces in Iraq. Al-Sadr vowed to disband JAM in 2008, though the cleric remained a powerful figure in Iraqi politics.
When he established the PB, he claimed the new militia would exist to defend Shiite holy sites. Earlier this week, al-Sadr declared his troops were on alert to fight the Islamic State group near Samarra.
The Islamic State group is an extremist organization with Sunni membership that has seized control of vast territories in Iraq and neighboring Syria.
Samarra is currently held by the Iraqi army, though the Islamic State group holds positions to the east and west of the city.
Samarra was the site of the bombing of a Shiite shrine in 2006 that sparked years of sectarian war across Iraq.
The following day, an Iraqi army colonel in Samarra told Reuters that the Islamic State group appeared to be on the verge of an assault on the city, or were digging in for a war of attrition.