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Iraqi Police Clash With Pro-Iran Militia Fighters In Baghdad


Members of the Hizbullah Brigades flash the victory sign while holding an Islamic State group flag in southern Iraq in October 2014.

Iraqi police have clashed with pro-Iranian militia fighters near the headquarters of the powerful Hizbullah Brigades in Baghdad, Iraq's Interior Ministry says.

The ministry on June 20 said security forces surrounded the headquarters in the capital after a shooting incident.

A security official said at least two police officers and a brigade member were wounded.

The Shi'ite Hizbullah Brigades are part of the Hashid Shaabi, or Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), that battled the Islamic State (IS) militant group in Iraq.

An Interior Ministry official told AFP news agency that a shoot-out erupted when a convoy of brigade members arrived after police stopped the driver of a stolen car who belonged to the PMF.

"The men in five vehicles opened fire and the police responded. Two policemen were wounded and one of the members of Hizbullah Brigades," he said.

Police then surrounded the militia headquarters "where the fighters had holed up."

The "person behind the shooting" was eventually arrested and officers eased the siege of the headquarters, the official said.

The Iran-backed Shi'ite militia in 2014 joined Hashid Shaabi -- which was under the command of Iraq's prime minister -- after Iraq's top Shi'ite cleric sought its help to stop the Sunni-led IS from rampaging across the country.

Iraq declared victory over IS late last year after the insurgents were driven from nearly all of their strongholds and top leaders were killed by Iraqi government forces and its allies.

Separate from its efforts in Iraq, the Hizbullah Brigades have been fighting on the side of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is backed by Russia and Iran but opposed by the United States and others in the West.

Based on reporting by AFP, Reuters, and The National

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