Thousands of mostly Shiite paramilitary forces converged Monday on Iraq’s Anbar province, after Iraq’s prime minister ordered them into battle to help retake the capital of the predominantly Sunni province from Islamic State.
Anbar’s provincial council said 3,000 fighters from the so-called Popular Mobilization Units, a force of mostly Shiite recruits and militias, had arrived at the Habanniya military base, 16 miles east of the provincial capital, Ramadi. They were “well-equipped” to fight alongside local Sunni tribesman, according to a statement.
“The popular forces are expected to bring battlefield skills that the local police and units don’t have,” a government official said, referring to the militias. “They know how to face Daesh with the same guerrilla tactics that Daesh uses,” the official said, using an Arabic term for Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.