Once again, Fallujah is at the heart of the fight for Iraq

McClatchy reports: Iraqi officials have been candid that the brunt of the fighting about to engulf the city will be borne by an umbrella group of Shiite militia groups formed under the supervision of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, the elite of Shiite Iran. That’s raised dire concerns from American advisers that these sectarian groups – overtly hostile to both Americans and Sunni Muslims – will break the already deeply frayed relationship between the Shiite government in Baghdad and the Sunni tribes that dominate the large swaths of Iraq currently under the Islamic State’s control.

The government claims that Sunni tribal fighters and local policemen from Anbar will join the militia-led assault. But many remain skeptical that Sunnis have joined in sufficient numbers to avoid the impression of a Shiite pogrom against Sunnis in Fallujah.

“The government says that it has trained 5,000 Sunni tribal fighters, but this number is not realistic,” said one Anbar tribal leader currently in Irbil, who asked his name not be used for fear of sectarian reprisals from the government.

“These Iranian gangs are going to take their revenge for Saddam and for Zarqawi on the innocent people of Fallujah and Ramadi,” he said, referring to the provincial capital of Anbar province, whose surprise fall to the Islamic State two months ago triggered the Shiite militias’ zeal to capture Fallujah. [Continue reading…]

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