Iraq News

Anbar tribes disavow ISIL, pledge support to Iraqi forces

By Saif Ahmed in Anbar


A member of the tribal groups fighting alongside Iraqi security forces takes a position behind sandbags during clashes with 'Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant' militants in the Hosh district of Ramadi in March 2015. [Azhar Shallal/AFP]

Since most of Anbar has been liberated from the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) in recent months, Iraqi tribes in the province have taken a strong stand against ISIL and all those who co-operate with the terrorist group.

In a renewed pledge to keep fighting terrorism, Anbar tribes have disavowed ISIL, saying they reject any reconciliation with wanted individuals and refuse to pardon anyone that has killed civilians or targeted the Iraqi forces.

"All the tribes and elders of Anbar, as well as the tribal leaders of the southern, central and northern part of the country, have disavowed the terrorist ISIL group, its supporters and all terrorists," said Sheikh Turki al-Ayed al-Shimmari, head of the Anbar tribal council that has been taking part in the fight against terrorism.

Terrorists have no tribe, religion

"Unfortunately, there are hundreds of wanted ISIL members who are from certain areas of Anbar, which is something we do not hide," al-Shimmari said. "But terrorism is not associated with a tribe, religion or area since ISIL does not acknowledge tribes or their elders."


Anbar tribes recently gathered to announce that they will not reconcile with those who collaborated with or supported the 'Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant' in any way. [Saif Ahmed/Diyaruna]

For this reason, the tribes have decided to punish anyone who is involved with any terrorist group, he added.

Tribal elders in Anbar have agreed to expel the families of ISIL members who knew their sons and fathers "were terrorists but did nothing to prevent it or turn them in".

"Anbar has been liberated save for three western districts, which will soon be cleansed from terrorism for good," al-Shimmari said.

On January 5th, Iraqi forces launched an offensive aimed at retaking the towns of Anah, Rawa and al-Qaim in the westernmost part of Anbar still under ISIL control .

"We will work with Iraqi forces to protect the rule of law and the sovereignty of our country in our fight and we ban criminals from returning to safe areas," he said. "Terrorism has come to an end and there will be no room for an ideology of murder and destruction."

Raising awareness on dangers of ISIL

Commander of Anbar tribal forces north of Ramadi Sheikh Ghassan al-Ethawi said Anbar has "suffered immensely" from ISIL's terror.

"After [most of Anbar] was liberated, the tribes agreed on several points that have come into effect," he told Diyaruna. "These include preventing ISIL members from returning to Anbar and making sure no strangers come and live in the villages, rural areas and other cities unless they are vetted."

The agreement among Anbar tribes bans all tribal elders from convening reconciliation councils for members of ISIL, from holding mediation efforts between ISIL members and the security forces, and prohibits them from being involved in terrorism-related investigations, he said.

The agreement also states that the tribes will support Iraqi security forces in their work, he said.

"Security and tribal meetings in all administrative districts of Anbar will seek to raise awareness among families on the dangers that could threaten the security of the province," al-Ethawi said. "Tribal leaders will also hold mass meetings to expose the ideology of the group and their terrorist plans as a deterrence method."

He said mayors and elders of each tribe will keep track of empty homes and shops in their areas and check their ownership "to ensure they are not used as breeding grounds for the terrorist group".

Tribes support Iraqi forces

Sheikh Jassim Abdul Mohammadi, a tribal leader, said the tribes support Iraqi security forces' efforts to maintain security and the rule of law.

The tribes support Iraqi forces "every step of the way as they serve the people of Iraq", he told Diyaruna. "We reject any form of discrimination, division and sectarianism that ISIL tries to spread."

"The Anbar tribes have identified wanted individuals by name and address so they will not be allowed to return," he said, adding that known terrorists will be arrested and prosecuted by the security forces, thus preventing them from moving to other locations and targeting innocent people.

Additionally, people who pose as religious men to further their own personal agenda or to spread division among the people of Iraq will be brought to justice, he said.

"Law enforcement and the courts will ultimately prosecute anyone that has pledged allegiance to ISIL or sympathised with it," he said.

The agreement among Anbar tribes is clear "when it comes to those who are involved with ISIL or those who helped or provided food and drink for them", said Sheikh Mahmoud Khaled al-Dulaimi, one of the al-Dulaim tribal elders.

"Such people, under tribal law, are wanted and disavowed," he told Diyaruna.

"Anbar province in all its cities is known for its conservative tribal and religious nature," al-Dulaim said, adding that the tribes have formed the tribal mobilisation forces to fight ISIL.

"They have sacrificed their sons as martyrs and some were wounded during the cleansing battles, so we can never make amends with those who killed and targeted our people and the security forces," he said.

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