The Ninawa Operations Command has agreed to arm tribesmen in remote villages in the province to defend themselves against sudden attacks by "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) remnants, the command said Friday (May 10th).
"It has been agreed to arm tribesmen, especially those living in desert and border villages in Ninawa province," the command's media director Brig. Gen. Firas Bashar Sabri told Diyaruna.
Residents of 50 remote villages -- mainly located south of Mosul and at the outskirts of the districts of Rabia, Zammar, al-Baaaj and Hatra -- will be receiving weapons from the operations command, he said.
"Local residents who already own a weapon must first register it officially at any nearby police station," he added.
The decision "was taken to support security in areas far from city centres and to enable citizens to defend themselves in case they are exposed to any threat from terrorist remnants", Sabri said.
Tribesmen in these areas have played a major role in helping Iraqi forces get rid of ISIS, he said, adding that they continue to support the command by providing intelligence reports.
Resident tip-offs "have allowed us to destroy many enemy hideouts and to target their movement", he said.
Empowering local population
"We seek through this decision to enhance the local population's participation in the responsibility of completely eliminating [ISIS] remnants," said Sabri.
The decision to arm local residents "does not indicate an increase in terrorist activity", he stressed. ISIS remnants "are broken and our forces are performing their responsibilities to the fullest and achieving great results".
But security breaches are at times committed by a few remaining ISIS cells who take advantage of the long distance between villages and the sparse presence of security forces in isolated villages, he added.
The decision comes following an ISIS attack Thursday on the mukhtar (local dignitary who heads a village) of al-Lazaka, a village south of the city of Mosul.
The "cowardly" attack killed mukhtar Mijbil Mankhi along with his mother, two children and his nephew, while his wife and niece were wounded, said Sabri.
ISIS remnants focus in their terror attacks on mukhtars "because they serve as the eyes of security forces and are in charge of monitoring their villages and protecting them from intruders", he added.
ISIS remnants in recent months have killed a number of mukhtars in Ninawa, Salaheddine and Anbar provinces.