„Gun trucks and humvees streamed north on a highway heading to Mosul on Sunday flying the banners of Shi’ite militias along with Iraqi flags while blaring religious songs. The convoys were the first clear sign of a new player on the battlefield in the U.S.-backed offensive to retake Mosul from Islamic State: Hashid Shaabi or Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), a coalition of Shi’ite militias.
Although it reports officially to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, the coalition is mostly made up of groups trained by Iran and loyal to its Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. They have close ties with General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s Quds Brigade, the extra-territorial arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. He was seen touring the frontlines around Mosul last week. Among the banners that could be seen flying from artillery cannons, communication towers and buildings recently retaken from Islamic State were those of Kataib Hezbollah and Asaib Ahl al-Haq, two of the main Iranian-backed groups, alongside the Badr Organization, considered the largest.“ (Babak Dehghanpisheh: „Iran-trained militias join U.S.-backed campaign on Mosul, flying Shi’ite flags“)
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