Among the lesser known Hashd formations in Iraq's northern province of Ninawa is the 90th brigade on the Hashd Sha'abi Commission. The 90th ordinal for formations of the Hashd Sha'abi Commission was associated for a time in some media with the group Fursan al-Jubur, but that formation actually designates itself the 48th Regiment at the present time. Meanwhile, a 90th brigade on the Hashd Sha'abi Commission has existed and continues to operate to the south of Mosul city under the leadership of one Aziz Sinjar. On 22 May 2019, I interviewed a media representative of the Hashd's 90th Brigade. Any parenthetical insertions in square brackets are my own.
Q: When was the 90th brigade formed? And can you tell me a little about its leader Aziz Sinjar?
A: The 90th brigade was formed in 2016 after the liberation of the Qayyara district and it participated in all the battles and the liberation of the left bank and right bank of Mosul. The fighters of the 90th brigade possess an arsenal of information and [about] the movements of Da'esh [Islamic State]. And they have caught many of the Da'esh terrorists.
The leader Aziz Sinjar: brother of the martyr general Rashid Sinjar the commander of the 7th division in 2007. The brigade was formed with his command because he is brave and does not barter over the blood of the martyrs. Sheikh Aziz has 4 martyrs from his children who were killed by the terrorist Da'esh organization on one day and in cold blood and until this moment Sheikh Aziz has made Da'esh see woe upon woes. But all this work and sacrifices, [and] the soldiers of the brigade are without salaries even though they have families. This brave man cannot be described in writing, because letters are not sufficient. God bears witness to his courage and generosity, and he does not barter and fights poverty and oppression.
Q: In what areas does the brigade operate currently and how many martyrs has it offered?
A: The sector of the brigade: south Mosul, Nimrod area, al-Shura, Qayyara, Hamam al-Alil. It has offered 8 martyrs and among them the children of Sheikh Aziz, may God have mercy on them.
Q: Does the brigade cooperate with any other brigades of the Hashd currently or with the Iraqi army only?
A: Yes, we have high coordination with the factions of the Hashd Sha'abi, and with the Iraqi army's 16th division and 20th division, and with the officer of the commander Najm al-Juburi as well. When the fighters of the 90th brigade go for a security obligation, they inform Mr. Najm of that and they have carried out more than one security operation in Hawaij al-Zab al-'Aala and the Tigris river and they killed a commander in Da'esh and those with him but the media did not publicize them or shed light on them.
Q: And you have excellent relations with Karim al-Shuwaili commander of the Hashd of Ninawa* and the Hashd Operations Command in Ninawa as well?
A: Yes, an excellent relation.
Q: Also from which regions are most of the fighters of the brigade?
A: The fighters of the brigade are from different areas to the south of Mosul, most of them from the Jubur, Dulaim and Shammar tribes.
Q: Currently all the fighters of the brigade receive salaries from the Hashd Sha'abi Commission?
A: No, they have not had salaries for 2 years.
Q: So the salaries are cut off since 2 years? Why?
A: By God brother the one who works honestly, the state does not want him. They have an administrative order [to be paid] but the Hashd's financing department is not paying them. And indeed they have not received at all.
Q: But all the fighters of the brigade are registered with the Hashd Commission right?
A: Yes, registered. And they have lists registered with the Commission, and they have only received arms from the Hashd command: vehicles, light, medium and heavy weapons. But there are no salaries. And God bears witness most of the fighters say: we don't need salaries, we only need to protect our land and honour. This is their slogan. And were it others besides them, they would have abandoned work a while ago, but the fighters from their bravery and adherence to their creed and love for the homeland continue to work regularly.
Q: How do you assess the situation in south Mosul today from the realm of security and services and humanitarian circumstances?
A: Security is very good with the cooperation of the people, but there are no services from the government. No paving, building, or employing of those unemployed. But most of the regions of Mosul: they are of the sons of the security forces in Mosul, And this course has become their livelihood and defending of themselves, after they have despaired and been deprived of civilian employment positions. And note there are many officials in south Mosul but without benefit. We have deputies in the council and members of the province [council], and also the governor of Ninawa has become from among us, but they work only for their followers. I hope you understand.
Q: Are there problems regarding the return of IDPs and children of the Dawa'esh [Islamic State people]?
A: The children of Da'esh and whoso supported them even in word, there is strong resistance by the people against their return.
Q: Yes, so the tribes of the area do not want their return.
*Note: Karim al-Shuwaili, an army officer, serves as a general supervisor of the Hashd formations in Ninawa. His position is distinct from that of the leader of the Hashd operations command in Ninawa.