In the last few days, the Western press has been full of harrowing reports on the death and destruction wrought by the Islamic State in Fallujah, western Iraq. But no media outlet is covering the still ongoing human disaster in which tens of thousands of the city’s Sunni residents are fleeing for their lives, including many elderly people, women and children. Some are escaping the intense fighting or because their homes were destroyed. But many Sunnis are fleeing in dread of their ‘liberators,” the pro-Iranian Iraqi Shiite militias that captured the eastern and central parts of Fallujah.
These militias, the Popular Mobilization Forces and the Badar Forces, take their orders from Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Al Qods Brigades, and Brig. Gen. Mohammad Pakpour, commander of the Revolutionary Guard Corps ground forces.
There is not much difference between the barbarous acts perpetrated by ISIS and the savagery of Shiite militiamen against the Sunni dwellers of the Iraqi city. In many cases it is even worse. The pro-Iranian fighters are burning down and blowing up houses, murdering and raping women, and executing children and the elderly with bayonets or gunfire.
The Iraqi Special Republican Guard, also called the Golden Division, which participated in the capture of the city center, withdrew from the parts of Fallujah that the pro-Iranian fighters entered. They did so even though Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi had promised the US via Douglas Ollivant, White House aide in charge of Iraq, that the SRG would protect the city’s Sunni population from the Shiite militias. What happened in fact was that the Iraqi soldiers opened the door for the atrocities.
American sources in Washington and Baghdad reported on Monday, June 20, that President Barack Obama and his top aides are furious with Al-Abadi for not keeping his promise. But debkafile’s military and intelligence sources point out that none of this would not have happened were it not for US military involvement in the war on the side of the Iranians.
The pro-Iranian militias were enabled to reach central Fallujah and overwhelm ISIS by the massive bombing raids carried out by US AV-8B Harrier II jets, which flew in from bases in the Persian Gulf, and F/A-18 Hornets from the USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier in the eastern Mediterranean.
Even the urgent American calls on Prime Minister Al-Abadi over the last few days to halt the murders and other outrages against the Sunnis population were pointless. Washington knows that he has no authority over the Iranian generals or commanders of the Shiite militias for halting the slaughter.
debkafile’s military and counterterrorism sources point to an especially grave repercussion coming as a direct result of the war crimes allowed to occur in Fallujah. Washington will be hard put to enlist any local Sunni allies for the capture of the two main ISIS strongholds, Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria.
Some of the American field commanders may believe they can dispense with Sunni support and rely on other local forces, such as the Kurds, to step forward. But they must take into account that many young Sunnis, after witnessing pro-Iranian atrocities in Fallujah may well opt to side with ISIS as the lesser evil.