Security

Southern Iraq tribes back crackdown on unlicensed weapons

By Alaa Hussein in Baghdad

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Weapons seized during 'Operations Real Promise' in Maysan province, south of the country are shown in this photo. [Photo courtesy of the Iraqi Ministry of Defence]

Tribal leaders in southern Iraq provinces have largely welcomed the government's recent efforts to seize unlicensed weapons and arrest wanted individuals, officials told Diyaruna.

On September 5th, the Joint Operations Command launched a series of operations dubbed "Real Promise", which will include seizing unlicensed weapons in the areas where there has been armed conflict between tribes.

The operations, which lasted till September 15th, targeted the provinces of Basra, Maysan, Muthanna and Dhi Qar in southern Iraq as well as the tribal al-Fadiliya and Huseinyat al-Maamel areas in Baghdad.

Units from the Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) and special forces regiments took part in the operations carried out in Baghdad, while forces from the Iraqi Army, Marines, Border Guard and Police Emergency Response Unit (ERU) carried out the Basra raids.

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Iraqi forces launched on September 5th a large-scale operation to seize unlicensed weapons in southern provinces. [Photo courtesy of the Iraqi Ministry of Defence]

Iraq's Rapid Response Division conducted raids in Maysan province along with the local police.

The operations resulted in the seizure of hundreds of unlicensed light and medium weapons and the arrest of dozens of wanted individuals.

The raids involved clashes that led to the killing of a number of wanted persons and the death of a Rapid Response officer in the rank of captain from the Qalaat Saleh district in Maysan province.

The operations, carried out in tribal areas on the outskirts of cities and districts, were widely welcomed by tribal leaders who were keen to facilitate the tasks carried out by security forces in their areas.

Sheikh Hasan al-Sayed Hamad, head of the al-Naim clan in Basra province, told Diyaruna that Basra residents, including elders, tribesmen and notables, "strongly support the recent security operations aimed at seizing unlicensed weapons".

He lauded the pursuit of wanted individuals and outlaws who "pose as much threat to their tribes as they do to the rest of society".

Tribes disavow militants

Sheikh Fakher al-Saihoud said some militants and outlaws use the tribes as a cover to carry out criminal acts that "contravene the traditions of Iraqi society and customs of its people".

"Iraqi tribes are totally innocent of these people and of the armed gangs and those who stand behind them and pull their strings," he told Diyaruna, adding that the tribes disavow the use of illegal arms among civilians.

Al-Saihoud, a senior leader of the clans of the Ghazi tribe in southern Iraq, said most tribal leaders in Iraq "emphasise adherence to the law and the constitution".

The Real Promise operations were met with "huge welcome and unmatched co-operation by clan leaders in al-Muthanna province", police chief Brig. Gen. Abdul-Ridha Kateh told Diyaruna.

The co-operation of citizens and tribesmen has helped achieve great results with regard to the seizure of weapons and arrest of wanted individuals, he said, adding that more than 90 people were arrested in the operations.

Iraqi tribes are complementing the work of security forces in maintaining security and order and are the main pillar of stability and safety, he said, noting that they do not accept the presence of outlaws among their clan members.

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