Return to the destroyed Mosul, 2017 & What is to be done? @MPPregent @ELALUSA Report w/Malcolm Hoenlein @Conf_of_pres.

Aug 25, 2017, 02:28 AM

08-24-2017 (Photo:08-24-2017 (Photo: ) Twitter: @BatchelorShow

Mossad meets with Washington and Moscow on the Iran threat . @ELALUSA Report w/Malcolm Hoenlein @Confofpres. @RonenBergman Yedioth Ahronoth

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Return to the destroyed Mosul, 2017 & What is to be done? @MPPregent @ELALUSA Report w/Malcolm Hoenlein @Confofpres.

On August 20, Iraq's security forces began the battle for Tal Afar, a satellite city of Mosul still under Islamic State control. One of the most controversial aspects of the battle will be the role played by the predominantly Shia Popular Mobilization Units. Indeed, the PMUs holding parts of the Tal Afar perimeter include Iran-backed militias such as Kataib Hezbollah, a U.S.-designated terrorist group that killed hundreds of Iraqis, Americans, and other coalition forces prior to 2011. But the Tal Afar battle will also be fought by predominantly Shia PMU forces that have only existed since June 2014, when they were raised by a religious fatwa from Iraq's senior Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. Units loyal to Sistani offer a better model for Iraq's volunteer forces than do the Iran-backed PMUs, and the international community -- including the United States -- should support and promote this model.

...The main Sistani-loyalist PMU formation is the al-Abbas Combat Division (Firqat al-Abbas al-Qitaliyah), which has been formalizing its structure ever since it began fighting the Islamic State in June 2014. According to administrators in al-Abbas contacted by the authors, the division includes 7,310 active-duty members and a reserve contingent of between 35,000 and 40,000 members. The active-duty division is now organized into a somewhat typical Iraqi military structure, including:

A divisional staff, with an intelligence section that operates drones and other specialized equipment (e.g., long-range electro-optical cameras) An artillery brigade, with one tube artillery battalion (equipped with 130-millimeter M-46 towed field guns and 122-millimeter D-30 towed howitzers) and one rocket artillery battalion (equipped with 107-millimeter BM-14 multiple rocket launchers [MRLs] and newly made 240-millimeter Raad-1 MRLs), as well as some 155-millimeter M-109 self-propelled howitzers A mechanized divisional commando battalion mounted in wheeled armored personnel carriers (APCs) A mechanized infantry brigade (called "Kafil"), with a variety of salvaged Saddam Hussein-era armored vehicles Two motorized infantry brigades (called al-Alqami and Umm al-Banin), with more salvaged Saddam-era transportation A reserve brigade consisting of 3,000 high-readiness reserve members (not included in the 7,310 active-duty members) The al-Abbas Combat Division has proven one of Iraq's most effective volunteer forces. One reason is that the division has consistently taken orders from the Iraqi national command authorities -- Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and the Joint Operations Command -- whereas many PMU forces instead answer to Iran-backed militia commanders such as Badr Organization leader Hadi al-Ameri and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, tagged by the United States as a Special Globally Designated Terrorist. The al-Abbas Combat Division has likewise consistently stated that it works fully under Ministry of Defense authority; receives its heavy weapons from the government, to which it will return them upon request; will not seek arrest powers; and is committed to dissolving at the government's request.