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Iran-Backed Militias Legalized By Iraqi Parliament

A law approved by the Iraqi parliament is stirring anger inside the country and across the Middle East. The measure, passed on Saturday, recognizes the Popular Mobilization Units, an Iran-backed Shiite militia, and will let them fight alongside the Iraqi military.

The move has the potential to worsen sectarian rivalries: the PMUs were formed in June of 2014 to fight the Islamic State after the city of Mosul fell to the terrorist group, but they stand accused of abuses against the country’s Sunni minority. All the Shiite blocs in the Iraqi parliament voted for the bill, while lawmakers representing the Sunni minority objected, Reuters reports.

The units, which comprise more than 110,00 fighters, are alleged by international monitoring groups to have killed and terrorized Sunni residents who live in ISIS-controlled territories as retaliation for attacks waged by the jihadist group. The militias reportedly demolished Sunni homes, stores and mosques and detained and kidnapped Sunni residents, according to a report issued by Human Rights Watch. The Islamic State adheres to a radical interpretation of a strain of Sunni Islam. – READ MORE