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Coalition airstrikes kill anti-Daesh Iraqi Sunni tribal fighters

Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles.
US military armoured vehicles [File photo]

The Tribal Mobilisation Forces (TMF), an Iraqi force of Sunni Arab tribal fighters attached to the Shia-dominated Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), have slammed the “blind aircraft” of the US-led coalition today for allegedly killing 20 of their fighters.

In a statement, Nazhan Al-Sakhr Al-Luhaiby, a commander in the TMF, confirmed that coalition warplanes bombed a building being used by his men as they attempted to defend against an attack by Daesh fighters east of Qayyara, 30 kilometres south of Mosul.

Al Jazeera reported that the TMF released a further statement confirming that the positions they were using were communicated to all allied military actors operating in the region and in coordination with the coalition.
The international coalition did not immediately respond to MEMO’s requests for comment on the incident.

In a related development, Al Jazeera’s Iraq editor Hamid Hadeed wrote on Twitter that the Iraqi government had decided that the TMF was not a part of the PMF, but were instead considered as “citizens who had volunteered” to support the security forces temporarily.

Last summer, Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi officially incorporated the PMF as a formal and separate military formation that functions independently of the Iraqi Army.

The revelations that the TMF may no longer be considered as a part of the PMF raises the spectre of further Sunni disenfranchisement after Daesh is removed from Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city. The PMF has been widely accused of sectarian abuses, including by Human Rights Watch.

This comes as the leader of the Shia Badr Organisation, one of the largest militias within the PMF, declared yesterday that the PMF will be involved in the operation to recapture Mosul from Daesh.

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