Shia militia 'launches grenade attack on Iraqi communists'

Shia militia 'launches grenade attack on Iraqi communists'
An office of the Iraqi Communist Party in Diwaniya province has been severely damaged following a grenade attack on Tuesday, following an altercation involving communist students and an Iranian-backed militia.
2 min read
11 April, 2017
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An office of the Iraqi Communist Party in Diwaniya province has been severely damaged and a guard there was injured following a grenade attack on Tuesday, security sources told The New Arab.

The party office was attacked with four hand grenades and an remotely detonated explosive charge, said Iraqi police in the heavily fortified city of Diwaniya. Police sources said investigations are ongoing, but suggested Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, a powerful Shia militia, is likely to be behind the assault.

Diwaniya is a communist stronghold in southern Iraq. Communists are known opponents of Shia Islamist militias and are opposed to Iranian influence in the area.

The attack took place hours after communist students in Al-Qadisiya University clashed with members of Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq on campus. The militia officially blamed communists for the clashes in a statement.

The confrontation began when students tried to stop Qais al-Khazali, leader of the militia, from speaking at an event at the university, chanting anti-Iranian slogans, Iraqi officials said.

Bullets were fired by members of the militia inside the campus, forcing the police to intervene. Three students were reportedly injured in the altercation.

Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq (AAH), also called the Khazali Network, is an Iranian-funded Shia militant organization that was officially founded in January 2006 by Qais al-Khazali as a splinter group from Sadrist Mahdi Army. It is often referred to as one of the Special Groups, a term used by the US military to denote the Iranian-controlled Shia militias operating in Iraq.

Despite its vehement opposition to the United States during the occupation of Iraq, AAH now fights alongside US forces against the Islamic State (IS). In 2015, an AAH spokesman released a statement announcing that the group was willing to accept US air strikes and military presence in Iraq under the supervision of the Iraqi government.

They are a component of the powerful Iranian-backed Popular Mobilisation Units (PMUs), which are deployed across Iraq as a quasi-state paramilitary force. The PMUs have been accused of numerous human rights abuses during the fight against IS.