Al-Monitor: What role did the international coalition play in this battle?
Saadi: There is no doubt that the international coalition aviation played a positive role in the battle, thanks to the high level of coordination between it and Iraqi security forces. Warplanes bombed [IS] positions for 24 hours straight and responded very quickly to our units’ calls for support.
Al-Monitor: Is there any truth to claims of abuses against civilians perpetrated by the Popular Mobilization Units? And what measures will the military establishment take in that regard?
Saadi: Warfare is conducted with weapons, and violence is commonplace in such situations. Unfortunately, in some instances, civilians fall victim to the fighting, for no battle is ever completely devoid of infractions. But I personally have not witnessed any action that rises to the level of being characterized as abuse of civilian human rights. I regret the media’s focus on minutiae while ignoring the issue of this important battle against terrorist forces that spilled the blood of Iraqi martyrs.
Al-Monitor: Who will take charge of security in liberated areas? Will Iraqi forces not native to the city be entrusted with this task, or will local forces composed of clansmen and others assume that role?
Saadi: Cities liberated from terrorism require highly efficient plans to maintain security on the ground. We, at the Counterterrorism Service, are not responsible for security, but I think that, in each city, local forces will control the ground with some potential support from Federal Police forces. In Fallujah specifically, I believe that maintaining security on the ground will fall upon the Baghdad Operations Command’s west Baghdad units, in cooperation with the Federal Police.
Al-Monitor: Was the battle to liberate Fallujah an easy or difficult operation?