Iraq's tribal Sahwa fighters are once again participating in maintaining security in a number of areas in Diyala province, the Diyala Operations Command said Wednesday (March 13th).
"We used to have a total of 2,541 Sahwa fighters from different tribes," Commander Maj. Gen. Abdul Mohsen al-Abbasi told Diyaruna.
"We have renewed their contracts for the current year after paying all of their outstanding dues of 500,000 Iraqi dinars ($420) per month to each element," he said.
These fighters are enlisted in the security forces and are deployed across Diyala, he said, including in the towns of Khan Bani Saad, al-Khalis, Shahraban, and villages south of Bahraz, south of Baladruz and in al-Muqdadiya.
By redeploying Sahwa fighters, military leaders seek to enlist the local population and enhance its participation in maintaining security in their areas against the threat of "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria " (ISIS) remnants, al-Abbasi said.
"We want the people to participate in the efforts to impose security and to support us in the fight against any [remaining] sleeper cells, especially in agricultural villages and desert areas," he said.
Other tribesmen have joined the ranks of the tribal mobilisation forces, he said, with a total of 6,500 such fighters currently registered and receiving monthly salaries.
Those are also fighting alongside the Iraqi forces and hold different security sectors, al-Abbasi said.
The Joint Operations Command and the army’s chief of staff are committed to embracing all tribal fighters and securing all their needs, he stressed.
The Sahwas are tribal formations that emerged in 2007 in Anbar province before expanding to the provinces of Diyala, Salaheddine and Ninawa and areas on the outskirts of Baghdad.
Sahwa fighters succeeded in a short time in expelling al-Qaeda from their areas, thus putting an end to the sectarian violence that was ravaging the country at the time and which had claimed thousands of lives.