U.S. says Shia militias leading Iraq towards ‘sectarian violence and instability’

File – A member of Hashid al-Shaabi holds a flag of Kataib Hezbollah militia group during a protest to condemn air strikes on their bases, in Baghdad (Reuters)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — The United States said actions of Shia militias are leading Iraq towards “sectarian violence and instability, calling on Baghdad to exert control over them.

The United States condemned the killing of civilians in the province of Saladin, Spokesperson of U.S. State Department Morgan Ortagus said in a statement on Monday (October 19).

Local officials in Saladin said on Saturday that unidentified militants kidnapped 12 civilians including children in Farhatiya town in the province. Police later found bodies of eight of them. The other four went missing, according to Saladin governor Akar Jabir.

“The United States strongly condemns the massacre of innocent civilians by Iran-backed militias in Salah al-Din governorate,” said Ortagus.

“The Government of Iraq needs to immediately exert control over the Iran-backed militias who are lawlessly attacking religious and ethnic minorities, peaceful protesters and activists, political party headquarters, and diplomatic missions,” she added.

“The actions of these groups are preventing the international community from helping Iraq and are leading Iraq towards sectarian violence and instability.”

The United States called on the Iraqi authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice and urged the parties to act responsibly and work together to help Iraq overcome its economic and security challenges and the coronavirus pandemic.

On Sunday, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi visited Saladin and met with security and military officials in the governorate.

Iraqi National Security Advisor Qassem al-Araji said a special investigative committee would investigate the “criminal incident” during a meeting with the Saladin governor.

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