Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Battle for Fallujah (June 18, 2016)

(ISW) The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) has made significant progress in its operation to retake Fallujah, but the city is not fully cleared. Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi announced the full recapture of Fallujah on June 17, following the recapture of the government complex. However, the northern neighbourhoods of the city remain controlled by ISIS, and several western neighbourhoods are still contested.

Even as the ISF operation is on the verge of military success in Fallujah, it is poised to be a political failure. The Badr Organization, an Iranian-backed Shi’a proxy militia, has entered the city limits alongside pro-Iranian ISF elements. Badr’s presence in Fallujah could spoil the anti-ISIS campaign and setback government efforts of Sunni reconciliation. This setback may already be triggered. Iranian proxy militias continue to carry out violations against the Sunni population fleeing the city. Anbar Governor Suhaib al-Rawi reported on June 13 that Popular Mobilization fighters in Saqlawiyah had executed 49 Sunni men and disappeared 643 civilians the week before, following reports of similar actions around Garma. Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report on June 9 further detailing militia abuse against Sunni residents. The Popular Mobilization has denied or downplayed these allegations. Popular Mobilization activity in Fallujah’s environs has demonstrated that militias are likely to treat residents in Fallujah as complicit with ISIS.