Iraq: 10,000 Turkmens 'join pro-government Shiite militia'

BAGHDAD - About 10,000 Iraqi Turkmen have joined a pro-government Shiite militia to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), federal authority officials are claiming, as Sunni Muslim groups complain of a lack of support.

"Seven thousand Turkmen factions from Tal Afar in the northern province of Nineveh, more than 2,000 from Tuz Khormato in the northern province of Saladin and hundreds from Bashir village in Kirkuk province have joined Al-Hashid al-Sha’bi," Torhan al-Mofti, a prominent Turkmen leader and a presidential advisor, said Wednesday.

Turkmens are ethnic relatives to Turks who have a common culture with Turkey. Iraqi Turkmens are the third-largest ethnic group living mainly in northern Iraq.

Iraqi Sunnis now calling for the establishment of a “National Guard” to create balance with the Shiite militias. Iraq is a majority-Shiite country.

Meanwhile, Sunni tribes’ sheikhs have complained about a lack of Iraqi government support.

"The government’s support to Sunni tribes is low and contains only light weapons which mostly are not working. On the contrary, the Shiite militias receive enough support, including heavy weapons," Na’im al-Ka’oud, head of Albo-Nemr tribe in Anbar, told The Anadolu Agency on Wednesday.

"In addition to weapons we also need supplies if the government wants the tribe to win the fight against ISIL," Sheikh Amir Abdul-Karim al-Fahdawi from Albo-Fahd tribe in Anbar said.

Al-Hashid al-Sha’bi consists of Iraqi Shiite volunteer fighters. The militia was established after a fatwa -- religious ruling -- for jihad against ISIL in June 2014 by Shiite leader Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who is originally from Iran and lives in the city of Najaf in Iraq.

Iraqi government troops are fighting against ISIL, supported by a U.S.-led coalition that has been conducting airstrikes against the extremist group for five months.

Iraq has been gripped by a security vacuum since June 2014 when ISIL stormed the northern province of Mosul and declared what it calls a caliphate in Iraq and Syria.

Copyright © 2015 Anadolu Agency