Kadhmi orders investigation into clashes between security forces, armed group in Basra

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi addresses public on the first day of Eid al-Fitr, May 13, 2021. (PM Office)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi ordered the formation of an investigative committee to probe a reported clash between Iraqi security forces and an armed group in Basra city.

Iraqi media cited commander of Basra Operations Maj. Gen. Akram Saddam as saying on Wednesday that there was an exchange of fire at the Presidential Palaces between a special security force and an armed faction, said to be militias from Asaib Ahl al-Haq.

Security Media Cell said in a statement on Thursday that Kadhimi, commander-in-chief of the armed forces, had instructed dispatching an investigative committee to Basra governorate to investigate the incident.

The Basra Operations Command, for its part, denied media reports about a statement made by Saddam regarding the armed skirmishes.

“We at the Basra Operations Command headquarters deny these media leaks,” the leadership said in a statement, adding that Saddam had not made any statement to a media outlet.

National Iraqi News Agency (NINA) reported on Thursday that the Iraqi premier had also dismissed Saddam, replacing him with Major General Ali al-Majidi.

Shafaq News cited security sources as saying that Kadhimi had blamed Saddam for his “inability to protect” the security forces.

Videos circulating on social media showed exchanges of gunfire between the armed group and the Iraqi security forces after the armed group attacked the headquarters of the tactical division of the Ministry of Interior’s Falcons Cell in the Presidential Palaces compound in Basra province, according to media reports.

The attack came after members of the Falcons Cell searched the home of a person wanted by the authorities in connection with last year’s assassination of activist Reham Yacoub in the city.

Activist Yacoub was shot dead in her car in Basra in August 2020.

AFP cited two senior Iraqi officials as saying that the security forces had arrested four individuals in Basra city suspected of killing anti-government protesters and vocal journalists.

“Intelligence forces arrested four suspected members of a 16-person network responsible for the assassinations in Basra targeting activists,” AFP cited one of the sources as saying.

 

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