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Iraq Military Seeks Draft for First Time Since Fall of Saddam Hussein

by F. Brinley Bruton /  / Updated 

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Iraq’s embattled military chiefs announced they will try to impose conscription for the first time since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

The draft law would be sent to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and the country’s parliament for approval.

The country’s forces have struggled to defeat ISIS extremists who have taken over swathes of the county. ISIS’ advances have been a huge embarrassment for the Iraqi military as soldiers retreated en masse from some of the front lines and extremists paraded hardware captured from the army.

The move to draft men between the ages of 19 to 45 would also allow for the conscription of ethnic Shiite militias that have been fighting ISIS but often operate outside government control. Under the proposed law, members of the militias would be punished if they do not join the army.

The decision was made because the “challenges that threaten the national security of the Iraqi people (and) land," Naseer Nouri Mohamad, an adviser to the Defense Ministry, said in a statement.

The country, which had a draft until 2003, when the army was disbanded after the U.S. invasion toppled Saddam, now counts around 200,000 soldiers. A further 40,000 Iraqi soldiers fight with the country's Federal Police.

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