BAGHDAD (Dispatches) – Iraqi Defense Minister Najah Al-Shammari has appreciated the devotion and sacrifices made by the country's popular Hashd al-Shaabi forces in the war against the Daesh terrorist group, stressing that they belong to the entire nation.
"Hashd al-Shaabi is not a force belonging to a special group of people or a region of the homeland, rather it is a big name for the entire Iraqi nation," al-Shammari was quoted by the Arabic-language al-Ma'aloumeh news website as saying on Saturday.
He underlined Hashd al-Shaabi forces' sacrifices and efforts to fight against the terrorist groups, and said the recent order issued by Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi was aimed at appreciating the Iraqi popular forces.
Al-Shammari praised Grand Ayatollah Sistani for his fatwa or religious decree that underlay the formation of Hashd al-Shaabi, saying the fatwa ushered in an era of increased security in the country and gave other Iraqi Armed Forces an opportunity to get past the shock they had experienced after they came under a vast raid by Daesh at the start of the war and reverse the course of events to embrace numerous victories.
Abdel Mahdi issued a decree last week integrating the country’s Popular Mobilization Forces into the formal armed forces.
"All Hashd al-Shaabi forces will work as an inseparable part of the armed forces. All rules applied to the armed forces will be applied to them, unless special letters decree otherwise,” read part of the decree on Monday.
It added, "All other names under which the factions of Hashd al-Shaabi operated during the heroic battles that eradicated the Daesh terrorist entity will be abandoned and replaced with military terms.”
The fighters joined forces with the military in 2014 after the Daesh terrorist group launched a campaign of bloodshed and destruction against the nation.
They effectively contributed to the country’s anti-terror struggle, especially in liberation of Daesh-held areas.
Fighters from the Hashed Al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization units) advance towards the town of Tal Afar, west of Mosul, after the Iraqi government announced the beginning of the operation to retake it from the control of the Daesh group on August 22, 2017.