Atheel al-Nujaifi, former Mosul governor and current commander of the Nineveh Guards Force. Photo: courtesy of Al-Nujaifi.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — A high-ranking Iraqi army commander renewed an already existing arrest warrant for Atheel al-Nujaifi, the former Nineveh Provincial Governor and the current Commander of Nineveh Guard Force on Saturday, if he enters the liberated eastern Mosul.
“[An] arrest warrant has been issued against former Mosul Governor Atheel Nujaifi in case if he is present in the left side of Mosul and that will be handed over to the judicial authorities [in Baghdad],” said Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool, spokesperson of the Iraqi Joint Operations Command, at a press conference on Saturday.
Nujaifi, a Sunni, was the governor of Nineveh Province — therein Mosul is the capital — when it fell to ISIS in June 2014. The Iraqi parliament removed him from his position the following year.
In late October, an Iraqi court issued an arrest warrant against al-Nujaifi for allegedly allowing Turkish troops into Iraq in 2015.
Turkish authorities contended that Nujaifi had agreed to allow Turkish troops into Iraq during his governorship.
In the run-up to regain control of Mosul from ISIS that began in October 2016, Iraq had publicly urged Ankara to withdraw its troops from its base in Bashiqa, a town about 20 kilometers northeast of Mosul. Baghdad also warned against Turkish involvement in the liberation of Mosul.
Today a member of the Nineveh Provincial Council told Rudaw that Nujaifi has repeatedly said that his Nineveh Guards Force would take responsibility for the security of the liberated neighborhoods in Mosul from ISIS.
“Before, Atheel al-Nujaifi had announced that his force, under the name of Nineveh Guards, will take the responsibility to protect the stability and security of the liberated neighborhoods, therefore, the arrest warrant for Nujaifi has been given out to all the Iraqi forces,” the provincial council member said.
However, in two Facebook posts on Saturday, Nujaifi claimed that the Nineveh Guards have been assigned to take security measures in 30 liberated neighborhoods of Mosul. He has also urged its members to pursue ISIS sleeper cells, extend good cooperation with civilians and protect them from any aggression.
But Rasool reiterated that “maintaining security and stability on the left side of Mosul, which is fully liberated, will be counted on the army and Nineveh police.”