Sheikh Abu Salim
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Iraqi commander: 'The Americans abandoned us'

More than 100,000 strong, Iraq's Awakening Councils, or Sahwa, are Sunni tribesman who once fought against American troops but then joined them in the battle against al-Qaeda and its affiliates.

They are widely credited with helping reduce violence in the war in 2006.

But since the US departed in 2011, Iraq's Shia-dominated government has been wary of the militia.

Sahwa fighters say they have been neglected, allowing the al-Qaeda-inspired ISIS to re-establish itself in Iraq.

Violence levels have soared.

In Samarra, northern Iraq, Sheikh Abu Salim has been a Sahwa commander since the councils were established.

He spoke to BBC Middle East correspondent Quentin Sommerville.

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