Iraq News

Iraq integrates Anbar tribal fighters into police

By Alaa Hussain in Baghdad


Iraqi forces hold a position on November 4th near the Syrian border after recapturing the Iraqi border town of al-Qaim from the 'Islamic State of Iraq and Syria' a day earlier. [Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP]

The Iraqi government recently approved a measure allowing Sunni fighters who are part of the tribal mobilisation in Anbar to join the province's police force, local officials told Diyaruna.

This move will reinforce the regular security forces in the province as well as limit the proliferation of weapons, they said.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abbadi ordered the measure after meeting with Anbar governor Mohammed al-Halbousi and local and tribal leaders on October 12th.

The decision also included reinstating members of the local police force who were dismissed after abandoning their posts when the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) overran Anbar three years ago.

"The number of members of the tribal forces who joined the emergency units in the local police has reached 430 fighters," said Falah Qaraghouli, tribal mobilisation forces commander in western Anbar.

This amounts to 30 to 40 fighters from each tribal mobilisation unit deployed across the province, he told Diyaruna.

"Members of the tribal forces joining the police force will improve the security situation in the province," he said, noting that tribal mobilisation forces are fighting alongside the Iraqi police and army to liberate the city of Rawa.

"This shows that fighters from all affiliations stand side by side in confronting terrorists," he said.

There are currently about 10,000 members of the tribal mobilisation in the province, whose main task is to hold liberated territory, Qaraghouli said.

He praised their role, alongside the Iraqi forces, in warding off an ISIS attack on Ramadi in September.

On September 27th, ISIS infiltrators briefly occupied three areas near Ramadi in an apparent attempt at a diversion from offensives against the group elsewhere in the province. But after several hours of heavy fighting in which there were deaths on both sides, all three areas were retaken.

Reinstating sacked police officers

More than 3,000 policemen are soon to be reinstated to service by the Anbar Police Command after being dismissed in 2015, with a further 4,000 to follow.

Thousands of policemen were dismissed from service when they did not show up for duty after ISIS stormed several cities in the province in 2015.

The reinstated policemen will be deployed across five regiments, with an average of around 425 police officers per regiment, Anbar police emergency regiment commander Brig. Gen. Khalid Jaijer told Diyaruna.

As these officers are experienced, four regiments are immediately returning to active duty in western Anbar to liberate Rawa under the leadership of al-Jazeera and al-Badiya Operations Command, he said.

Anbar provincial council member Naeem al-Koud called on the federal government to hand out full salaries to members of the tribal mobilisation forces in the province and to dispense salaries to the local police force's new recruits.

"Hundreds of members of the tribal forces have not received their salaries since 2015, although they have been fighting terrorism and defending their province against ISIS attacks," he told Diyaruna.

Al-Koud also called for increasing the numbers of the police force as "there are currently only 17,000 members across the province, while there were 27,000 before the province was occupied by ISIS".

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