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Exclusive: Iran-backed groups corner Iraq postwar scrap metal market – sources

MOSUL, Iraq (Reuters) – Wrecks of vehicles used by Islamic State militants as car bombs and other metal waste left by the war in Iraq now help fund their enemies who survived Iran, said industry sources.

Scrap and remnants of war are divided near the destroyed Grand Mosque of al-Nuri in Old City of Mosul, Iraq February 2, 2019. Photo taken February 2, 2019. REUTERS / Khalid al-Mousily [19659003] Shiite Muslim paramilitaries who have helped Iraqi forces to strengthen the Sunni IS from its last strongholds in Iraq have taken control of the developed metal scrap trade that has been recovered from the battlefield, according to sellers and others who are familiar with the trade.

Scrapersard owners, steel steel overseers and lawmakers from across the city of Mosul, de facto are the capital from 2014 to 2017, which is described by Reuters as how Popular Forces made Mobilizing (PMF) millions of dollars from the sale of anything from broken cars and destroyed the weapons to water tanks and windows frames.

The PMF rejected the participation. "The PMF has nothing to do with any trading activity in Mosul, scrap or otherwise," a PMF security official at Mosul said.

But interviews with scrapbacks and those in the industry reinforce accounts of legislators that militias govern or direct scrap transportation, which is then dissolved for use in building materials, and even great income.

These sources say that PMF groups are using their growing influence – and from time to time, according to some witnesses, intimidation – in the corner of the market and controlling metal transport from damaged cities like Mosul in Kurdish-run northern Iraq where it was bought and melted in iron.

That little iron is used to rebuild the victorious areas by fighting. It goes instead to Kurdistan or south of the provinces of Shi's it, they say.

The trade is a way in which the Shi's paramilitaries, now part of the Iraqi security forces, change their control over the land formerly "ONE" conglomerate "into a resource of wealth.

The rise of the PMF umbrella group's influence, which is the most powerful factions supported by Iran, is concerned with the United States and Israel as tensions that are on board Iran, which ensures its transfer to a territory corridor through Iraq and Syria in Lebanon. In a scrapyard last month near a PMF checkpoint on the edge of Mosul, workers were put together by metal from a pile of car parts , electrical generators and water tank crushing.

The scrapyard owner said the PMF teams bought tons of scrap daily and sold them in the areas of the Kur dishes to double the price – or allow merchants to do so in exchange for a revenue cut, for passing through the places they control.

"This yard is controlled by a PMF faction, one on the other side of the street," she says. He refused to give his name for fear of military recaptures.

"I am only allowed to be sold to certain traders – they are either members of the militia or deal with them. You can not get scrap metal through checkpoints without PMF deals," he said.

Ahmed al-Kinani, a lawmaker representing the political arm of Asaib Ahl al-Haq, a powerful paramilitary group with 15 seats in parliament, prohibits such trade with individuals "exploiting the destruction of war.

"This PMF does not accept this. If there are individual, isolated cases, the state needs a step, "he said.

But the owner of the scrapyard, claiming to buy a scrap for 100,000 Iraqi dinars ($ 84) per ton and sold This is for 110,000 dinars, said the PMF or businessman that they are working on selling it to Kurdistan for up to $ 200 a ton. He said the PMF controlled his yard.

"One day two men came in a pick -up truck, carrying pistols, and told me to lower the price and sell it to them. I'm following – they have guns, "said the owner.

A worker at the opposite of the scrapyard described a similar system and prices, although he did not mention the threat.

Within Mosul , the scrap was bought even cheaper A boy he sold for 50 dinar per kilo ($ 42 per ton) said in a scrapyard in the ruined Old City of Mosul The site belongs to a group of PMFs, he and some other residents said.

The yard contains steel rods and roofing from destroyed buildings, and furniture. The destruction of car bombs and vehicles destroyed, that many of them were taken from the Mosul area in months after the battle ended in 2017, now dropping below scrap.

In Anbar province, west of Baghdad, drivers and entrepreneurs say that PMF established a heap of destroyed cars seen from the main highway near Falluja, where the battle is intense in 2015.

Traders told the PMF or companies that the militias had agreements with rental drivers in metal transport from Anbar province to Kurdistan, or south of Basra.

Alaa, a driver who used an alias, said permission for transporting scraps contained in the PMF. Law builders and entrepreneurs say that the PMF family sometimes carries the scrap more open to their own trucks. Reuters can not verify this.


Scrap scrap volumes have been reduced due to the immediate result of the war on the IS, but millions of tons of debris, including metal, are still places broken devastated.

Mohammed Keko, the overseer of a steel plant near Erbil in the Kurdish region, said he bought a minimum of 300 to 400 tonnes of major Mosul scraps daily since re-capturing the city from IS.

"Once we buy $ 150 to $ 160 per tonne, it depends on what the entrepreneurs have to pay," he said.

Keko said the PMF controlled the scrap transportation, which sometimes stops for months while militias disagree with prices or traders can not pay enough to get the cargo .

Steel rods produced by Erbil Steel Co. are sold in one part of the Kurdistan region but mainly in the south of the Shi's provinces of Iraq, Keko said.

Nawfal Hammadi al-Sultan, governor of the province of Nineveh where Mosul was the capital, the PMF also said buy scraps but disregarded the allegations of some local legislators allowing him to be paramilitary control trade.

Slideshow (13 Photos)

"They buy it (but) there is no law prohibiting anyone from buying scrap metal," he said.

Warnings say iron must return to Sunni areas retrieved from IS to help rebuild. They hardly blame the removal of scrap metal for sale or use in other provinces for the slow pace of rebuilding.

"It's stealing material belonging to the state or people," said Mohammed Nuri Abed Rabbo, a former member of parliament. "The PMF does a doubling of what they buy or their merchants. We speak hundreds of thousands of tons."

Reporting by John Davison; Additional Report Kamal Ayyash in Falluja, Ahmed Rasheed in Baghdad, Editing by Timothy Heritage

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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