BAGHDAD (Dispatches) – A bomber blew himself up killing at least seven fighters from Iraq’s popular Hashd al-Sha’abi popular group near the city of Samarra north of Baghdad, the military said in a statement.
It said three other fighters were wounded in the attack, but gave no further details. There was no immediate claim for the attack, but such assaults bear the hallmark of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.
Safa Tamimi, spokesman for Saraya al-Salam (Peace Brigades) – a group operating under the umbrella of the voluntary forces better known by the Arabic name Hashd al-Sha’abi, told Arabic-language al-Sumaria television network that a bomber blew up a car rigged with explosives on Thursday evening.
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi stressed on November 5 last year that efforts were underway to find financial sources to support Hashd al-Sha’abi forces.
"Maintaining Hashd al-Sha’abi is one of our most important duties, and I strongly support its presence. There are those who are trying to say that Hashd al-Sha’abi is temporary, but I emphasize that such a force is a necessity,” Abdul-Mahdi said.
"Even though it is not long since the government has been formed, I will do my utmost to grant Hashd al-Sha’abi full rights,” he pointed out.
Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters have played a major role in the liberation of Daesh-held areas to the south, northeast and north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, ever since the terrorists launched an offensive in the country, overrunning vast swathes in lightning attacks.
In November 2016, the Iraqi parliament voted to integrate Hashd al-Sha’abi, which was formed shortly after the emergence of Daesh, into the military.
Former Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi declared the end of military operations against Daesh in the country on December 9, 2017.
On July 10 that year, he had formally declared victory over Daesh in Mosul, which served as the terrorists’ main urban stronghold in Iraq.
In the run-up to Mosul’s liberation, Iraqi army soldiers and Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters had made sweeping gains against Daesh.
Iraqi forces took control of eastern Mosul in January 2017 after 100 days of fighting, and launched the battle in the west on February 19 last year.