Iraq: US shelling kills dozens of Shia Muslim fighters

8th Aug 2017
Iraq: US shelling kills dozens of Shia Muslim fighters

BAGHDAD (AA) – Dozens of fighters from a Shia militia were killed by U.S. shelling near Iraq’s border with Syria, the group said Tuesday.

In a statement, the Sayed Al-Shuhada Brigade said the U.S. artillery attack would “not go unpunished” and called on the Iraqi government to launch an investigation.

A source within the brigade, a faction of the Hashd al-Shaabi militia, said a convoy of its fighters was targeted inside southern Syria across the border from Al-Rutba district in Iraq’s Anbar province.

“At least 36 fighters were killed and 80 others injured in the attack,” the source said on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to media.

The bodies of those killed in the strike arrived at Baghdad airport late Monday, the source added.

An Iraqi security official, speaking under similar terms of anonymity, said the attack took place after the convoy had crossed into Syria. It remained unclear what the militia fighters were doing in Syria.

The U.S.-led coalition in Iraq had yet to comment on the incident at the time of publishing.

An umbrella group of pro-government Shia Muslim militias, the Hashd al-Shaabi was established in 2014 to fight Daesh.

It has been accused in the past of committing violations against civilians in Sunni-majority areas captured from Daesh — allegations that it has denied.

Last November, Iraq’s parliament endorsed a proposal to formally incorporate the Hashd al-Shaabi into the Iraqi armed forces.

There is no official data regarding the size of the Hashd al-Shaabi, but some sources say it can field as many as 300,000 fighters.

[Archive photo: Members of Hasdi Sabi after recapturing Fallujahs Saklaviye district from Daesh in Anbar on 4 June 2016. Photographer: Ali Muhammad/AA]

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