They heeded a Shia leader’s call-to-arms, were equipped and trained by Iran’s elite military and were forged in the crucible of war against the Islamic State.

In little more than three years the Hashd al-Shaabi, or Popular Mobilisation Units, have risen from disparate alliance of volunteer militias to become a battle-tested force in Iraq.

We see our role as complimentary to the Iraqi army role… They can’t fight without us and we can’t fight without them.”

– Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, Hashd leader

And despite the apparent end of the waragainst IS in Iraq, they are resisting pressure from the West and other Iraqi politicians to disband – the group’s leaders insist they are here to stay.

“We need this force and insist on maintaining it to eradicate and destroy terrorism in Iraq,” said Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iraq’s Hashd al-Shaabi forces.


Read the whole story from Middle East Eye.