World Bulletin / News Desk
The Iraqi parliament Saturday voted to recognize the Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militia as an official force.
Some 208 MPs of the 328-seat parliament attended Saturday’s vote, which was boycotted by Sunni lawmakers.
“The security and defense committee with the participation of relevant panels has managed to issue the Hashd al-Shaabi legislation,” lawmaker Hakim al-Zamli told reporters.
He called on the government to finalize the structure and appointments of the militia leaders.
Established in 2014, the Hashd al-Shaabi is an umbrella group of pro-government Shia militias drawn up with the purpose of fighting the ISIL terrorist group.
“The Council of Representatives (parliament) has fulfilled its responsibility toward the mujahideen (fighters),” Ammar al-Hakim, the head of the Shia National Alliance, the largest bloc in parliament, said.
Saturday’s vote came despite a call by the Iraqi cabinet for withdrawing the bill for further study.
Al-Hashd al-Shaabi has been controversial, since the Shia militia has been accused in the past of committing rights violations against Sunni-Muslim populations in areas taken from ISIL, including Iraq’s western city of Fallujah.
Iraq’s security situation has deteriorated markedly since mid-2014, when ISIL captured Mosul -- Iraq’s second largest city -- and overran large swathes of territory in the country’s northern and western regions.