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Iran Press TV

Commander of anti-terror Hashd al-Sha'abi forces in Iraq's Anbar released after charges dropped

Iran Press TV

Wednesday, 09 June 2021 10:51 AM

Iraqi authorities have released a high-ranking commander of anti-terror Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) after charges of involvement in a series of attacks on US military forces and installations against him were dropped.

Iraq's media outlets, citing informed sources, said Qasim Muslih, the PMU's head of operations in the volatile western Anbar province, was freed on Tuesday.

Social media users even published pictures of Muslih surrounded by his fellow fighters moments after his release.

Iraqi security forces on May 26 arrested the senior commander of the PMU, which is better known as Hashd al-Sha'abi.

Muslih was arrested in Baghdad for alleged involvement in several attacks, including on the Ain al-Asad airbase, which houses American troops.

His arrest immediately drew a sharp rebuke from Iraqi people, resistance groups and political activists.

"The arrest of the prominent PMU commander by Iraqi security forces is politically-motivated. Over the past few months, several acts of terror have taken place in different parts of the country. Security forces were expected to pursue the perpetrators of such acts, than to arrest the commanders of the Popular Mobilization Units," Qais al-Khazali, the leader of Iraq's Asa'ib Ahl al-​Haq movement whose group is a part of the Hashd al-Sha'abi, said at the time.

He also directed strident criticism at Mustafa al-Kadhimi, arguing that the Iraqi prime minister had been ordering the arrest of Hashd al-Sha'abi commander ever since he took office in May 2020.

Iraqi lawmaker Ahmed al-Asadi also lambasted Muslih's arrest as a very dangerous act.

"Such actions could escalate tensions in Iraq. It is an attack on a security apparatus, which we are all proud to belong to. A mistake has been made, and it needs to be rectified," the spokesman of the Fatah Alliance in the parliament pointed out.

Additionally, the Iraqi Kata'ib Hezbollah in a statement denounced Muslih's detention, holding the Baghdad government responsible for its repercussions.

Hashd Shaa'abi forces played a key role in the defeat of Daesh and other terrorist groups in Iraq, but the US government has targeted their positions on several occasions.

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