The Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi militia has said that some groups affiliated with them "have supported the Bashar Assad regime for the last six years."
At the press conference held in Baghdad, Hashd al-Shaabi spokesperson Ahmed al-Assadi said, "Some groups affiliated with Hashd al-Shaabi played an important role in fighting terrorism in Iraq by fighting in Syria for six years."
"If these forces were not in our hands, the Syrian regime would be in the hands of Daesh and the map of the Middle East could change," Assadi said.
He also said that the Shiite paramilitary group would join the military operation in the predominantly Turkmen city of Tel Afar. The Iraqi city of Tal Afar was captured by Daesh in mid-2014 along with vast swathes of territory in northern and western Iraq.
Meanwhile, six militia groups will take part in a planned military operation to recapture Iraq's northwestern city of Tal Afar, a militia member said Monday. The groups are part of the Hashd al-Shaabi militia, a Shiite paramilitary force that has been providing support to government forces in the ongoing fight to dislodge the Daesh terrorist group from Iraq.
Lieutenant Faraj Hamed said the Abbas Brigade, Ali Al-Akbar Brigade, the Badr Military Wing, the Imam Ali Brigades, the Imam Hussein Brigade, and the Hezbollah Battalions will participate in the fight to seize control of Tal Afar from Daesh.
The Iraqi government had previously stated that Hashd al-Shaabi outside the borders of the country were not under their control.
The participation of Hashd al-Shaabi in the planned Tal Afar operation has sparked fears of a possible sectarian conflict.
Iraq's Sunni Arabs and human rights groups have long accused the militiamen, formally incorporated into the Iraqi military last year, of being involved in extrajudicial killings, abuse and the theft or destruction of property in areas from which they drove out Daesh.
The Turkish government has become increasingly uneasy over extremist Shiite militia Hashd al-Shaabi's imminent ground offensive on the Turkmen-populated Iraqi town of Tal Afar. Ankara expressed its frustration over a Hashd al-Shaabi-led operation against Daesh-held Tal Afar, saying the offensive should be carried out by the national Iraqi army rather than a recently legalized paramilitary group.
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