Iraq: Shiite militias’s name for Anbar battle against ISIS draws ire from Pentagon

Iraqi Shiite militia
Iranian-backed Iraqi Shiite militia

The name Shiite militias are using to describe the Iraqi operation to retake Anbar province from the Islamic State group is drawing ire from the Pentagon over its sectarian tilt.

The Popular Mobilization Units have named the battle that began Tuesday in Arabic: “Labaik Ya Hussein.” That means “I am here, Hussein” in English. It refers to a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad and one of the most revered figures of Shiite Islam.

That has added to the worries about the Shiite militias operating in Anbar, a predominantly Sunni province long suspicious of the Shiite-led government in Baghdad.

At the Pentagon, spokesman Col. Steve Warren called the title “unhelpful.” He added: “We’ve long said … the key to expelling ISIL from Iraq is a unified Iraq that separates itself from sectarian divides,” using an alternate acronym for the group.

Karim al-Nouri, a spokesman for the Popular Mobilization Units, said the name wasn’t sectarian.

Al-Nouri said: “This name has no sectarian dimension (or meaning) because all Iraqis, regardless of their sect or religion, love Imam Hussein.”


Associated Press/My Way