BAGHDAD (Dispatches) – A proposed truce by anti-terror resistance groups, which are part of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), better known by the Arabic name Hashd al-Sha’abi, to suspend attacks on U.S. troops is temporary and depends on the complete withdrawal of American troops by year-end, a senior Iraqi lawmaker says.
"The truce isn’t open-ended,” Ahmad al-Assadi, spokesman of the Fatah Alliance and a former official spokesman for Hashd al-Sha’abi, told AFP news agency.
"In my estimation, at its earliest it could end around the U.S. elections,” slated for November 3, "or it could last until the end of the year,” he added.
"A truce lasting longer than the end of the year doesn’t make much sense. We’re only giving the government more time to negotiate the withdrawal,” Assadi pointed out.
In early January, Iraq’s parliament voted to expel American troops from its soil two days after a U.S. drone strike assassinated top Iranian anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, and his Iraqi trench mate Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of the Popular Mobilization Units. Anti-U.S. sentiments have been running high since then.
Iraqi resistance groups, in a joint statement released on October 10, agreed on a conditional ceasefire to American forces present in Iraq, saying they would halt their military operations against the U.S. troops, including rocket attacks, provided that Washington does not persist in maintaining its presence in the Arab country.
The Hashd al-Sha’abi movement was established in 2014 from volunteers to fight Daesh and other terrorist groups.
Hashd al-Sh’abai 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 in June 2014.
Back in November 2016, the Iraqi parliament approved a law giving full legal status to the fighters. It recognized the PMU as part of the national armed forces, placed the forces under the command of the prime minister, and granted them the right to receive salaries and pensions like the regular army and police forces.
Meanwhile, a high-ranking Iraqi military official said Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters, alongside national security forces are effectively thwarting infiltration attempts of the Daesh terrorists on the western border with Syria.
Brigadier General Yahya Rasoul, a military spokesman for Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, said qualitative and pre-emptive operations by both Hashd al-Sha’abi and security forces are underway along the frontier to prevent possible infiltrations in various spots.
"The forces continue to set up several ambushes along the border. Our units have been able in the past to arrest a number of smugglers and terrorists,” he added.