Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi during a military parade by Iran-backed Shiite militia Hashd al-Shaabi, also known as Popular Mobilization Forces in the town of al-Khalis, Diyala province, eastern Iraq, on July 23, 2022

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi during a military parade by Iran-backed Shiite militia Hashd al-Shaabi, also known as Popular Mobilization Forces in the town of al-Khalis, Diyala province, eastern Iraq, on July 23, 2022

Iran-Backed Hashd Al-Shaabi Forces Hold Military Parade In Iraq

7/23/2022

Iran-backed Shiite militia Hashd al-Shaabi, also known as Popular Mobilization Forces, held a military parade Saturday to mark the eighth anniversary of its formation. 

The Saturday ceremony was held in al-Khalis, located about 15 kilometers (9 miles) northwest of the city of Baqubah in Diyala Province, and was attended by Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, Chairman of the Popular Mobilization Forces Falih al-Fayyadh, Secretary General of the Badr Organization Hadi al-Amiri and a number of high-ranking military officials.

The militia also unveiled new weapons and military equipment, including al-Rasid (Monitor) and al-Hassib (Auditor) systems to control unmanned aerial vehicles and overhauled Russian T-52 tanks.

Al-Hashd al-Shaabi was established back in 2014, following a fatwa (a decree or ruling in Islamic sharia law) by influential Iraqi religious authority, Ali al-Sistani, to fight ISIS, which controlled four governorates and reached the borders of the capital Baghdad at the time. The Iraqi state-sponsored umbrella organization is composed of approximately 67 different armed factions, with around 128,000 fighters that are mostly Shia Muslim groups, but also include Sunni Muslim, Christian, and Yazidi groups. 

Earlier in July, Moqtada al-Sadr, the most influential Shiite cleric in Iraq, who is against Iran’s presence in Iraq -- renewed his call to reorganize the Hashd al-Shaabi, which was led by former Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis before he was killed alongside Qasem Soleimani in January 2020 by a US drone strike.

He said Hashd al-Shaabi should not be involved in sectarian conflicts, should withdraw from the Sunni-dominant areas, and should be kept away from foreign interventions – an indirect reference to Iran.

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