Members of the Hashd al-Shaabi told a Reuters reporters that the Americans are “spying” on them. “We can hold the borders. We’ll fight whoever lays a finger on Iraq and its holy shrines,” a fighter from the PMU said. The report claimed that the PMU “de facto” have control over the Iraq-Syria border area at Al-Qaim and other areas.
The deployment is strengthening the PMF’s de facto control over large stretches of the frontier while its leaders are calling for a formal, permanent role securing the border. According to the report “One commander, Abu Seif al-Tamimi, said the PMF now held a 240-km (150-mile) stretch of frontier in the area.” They are “ready” to take over the security. “We liberated these areas and didn’t need help from the Americans.” But the US has bases on the roads nearby. There appear to be tensions with the Americans. The Iraqi security forces presence is portrayed as having a small footprint in just a handful of watchtowers at the border. Flags of the Shi’ite militias are more prominent on the road. A US official even wondered what would come next. According to the report there are now 20,000 PMU on the border and these fighters control a swath of area stretching to the Jordanian border.
The report comes in the wake of another in TRT that looked at life in Anbar in Anah. “Many in Anah feel they are viewed as supporters of insurgent groups by those in other areas of the country, even if they were the ones to lose the most from the fight against Daesh, they say,” the article by Shelly Kittleson noted. Although life has improved and people feel safe to walk in the streets, they still face issues traveling. “They complained of the difficulty to go even to the nearby Haditha in months after the liberation of the city, instead, due to military checkpoints at which they were viewed with suspicion.”
The area a year after liberation is still a “military zone.”
The report comes as the Iraqi air force have carried out new airstrikes in Syria. According to a report the “target was a group of 30 gathered in a field outside of Soussa town where several leaders were planning to meet, second was a group of 14 gathered near a den in the same vicinity. Military Intelligence provided the info to IQAF.”
Rukban camp continues to suffer
This also comes amid tensions relating to the large IDP camp in Syria at Rukban.