Iraqi prime minister has ordered the Shia militia group accused of going on a rampage in the capital of Iraq’s northern Saladin province, Tikrit city, to immediately withdraw from the area, an Iraqi official said Saturday.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi ordered al-Hashid al-Shaabi militia to withdraw from Tikrit city, Jassem Jabara, chief of Saladin council’s security committee, told the Anadolu Agency.
“Al-Abadi issued the orders after reports surfaced about the militia’s looting and burning of private properties following ISIS’s defeat in the city,” Jabara said.
The militia’s fighters have started to withdraw at certain points outside the city, while local police remained inside to enforce security, he added.
The Shia militia, al-Hashid al-Shaabi, however, did not confirm the withdrawal.
Ahmed Abdel-Jabbar al-Karim, chief of Saladin’s provincial council, told the Anadolu Agency late Friday that he along with Governor Raed al-Jabouri left the province in protest against al-Hashid al-Shaabi’s alleged looting and burning spree in Tikrit.
Al-Karim had also blamed the central Iraqi government of not doing enough to stop the militia’s illegal actions. “Governor Raed al-Jabouri told Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi about the violations and left the province when no stopped the militia from robbing and burning shops in Tikrit,” he said.
According to al-Karim, the Shia militia also clashed with him and al-Jabouri when they tried to stop their rampage in central Tikrit. The militia men allegedly used abusive words, laced with sectarian references, with the senior Iraqi officials, which then quickly turned into a physical clash that left several body guards injured.
Mashaan al-Jabouri, Iraqi parliament’s deputy speaker, defended the Shia militia group and in turn alleged that it was the Iraqi police who began the looting Thursday.
Iraqi prime minister held a meeting Saturday with al-Jabouri and al-Karim, and discussed the security situation in Tikrit, Al-Abadi’s office said in a statement.
The militia Al-Hashid al-Shaabi denied that it was involved in the burning and looting of houses in Tikrit at a press conferenceThursday.
Iraqi army and police backed by al-Hashid al-Shaabi militia had taken control of Tikrit from ISIS Tuesday after severe clashes last month.