Policeman killed in clashes with powerful militia group in Baghdad

Another officer was wounded in a gun battle that took place in Sadr City on Sunday

Members of the Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary force chant anti-US slogans during a protest over the killings of Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi paramilitary commander Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, on January 6, 2020 in Karrada in central Baghdad. / AFP / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE
Powered by automated translation

A clash between Iraqi security forces and militiamen left at least one policeman dead and another wounded at dawn on Sunday in Baghdad, residents and media outlets said.

Three militiamen linked to the powerful Iran-backed Asaib Ahl Al Haq armed group were arrested after the clashes in the capital’s eastern district of Sadr City, a police officer told a local media outlet.

Residents told The National that a row erupted between a Federal Police patrol and the militiamen when the police seized unregistered cars used by the group, they added.

Gunfire was also seen in videos published on social media, showing Federal Police vehicles rushing to the scene.

The Interior Ministry has not issued a statement and requests for comment by The National were unanswered.

Although Sadr City is the stronghold of the of influential cleric Moqtada Al Sadr’s supporters and his Al Salam Brigades militia, his rivals in Asaib Ahl Al Haq also have a presence in the sprawling district.

Led by Qais Al Khazali, a former member of Mr Al Sadr's movement, AAH is one of the main backers for Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al Sudani’s government who took office in October 2022. It is a leading component of the Iran-backed Co-ordination Framework which is now the largest bloc in Parliament.

Since the war against ISIS largely came to an end in 2017, the number of Iran-backed Shiite militias increased from a handful to more than 40 at the height of the struggle. Since then, they have grown more powerful in the country with growing political sway and economic power.

Increasingly, a number of the groups have clashed over control over checkpoints and economic interests, but the rivalry between AAH and Mr Al Sadr's followers has been the most intense.

Updated: March 31, 2024, 8:44 AM