Only a few days ago, the Daesh terrorist group ruled this verdant Iraqi farmland. By Saturday, the area was firmly controlled by powerful Shiite militias, which delivered swift blows to the extremists and severed their supply lines to nearby Fallujah, The Washington Post reported on Sunday.
Iraq’s government has ordered the militiamen to stay away from the battle to drive the Daesh group out of Fallujah, fearing further sectarian unrest from their presence inside the Sunni stronghold.
The assault on the city — a key test in the U.S.-supported campaign to oust the Daesh group from Iraq — is being led by the military, police and elite counter-terrorism forces. But their progress has slowed, and Shiite militia leaders on the outskirts here, such as Hadi al-Amiri, appear antsy.
He wants to send in the Iranian-backed fighters of his Badr Organization, which he commands.
“No one can stop us from going there,” Amiri said Saturday at a commandeered farmhouse about a mile west of Fallujah.
Such a move into Fallujah could cause serious problems. In early 2014, the Daesh group easily took control of the city by exploiting the anger of its residents against the Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad.
And Sunni leaders from the area, in Iraq’s western Anbar province, have expressed extreme discomfort with the presence of the militias. Human rights groups have accused Shiite militiamen of brutal treatment of Sunnis suspected of ties to the Daesh group.