UPDATE [6.09.2019]: The PMU denied the it had formed the Air Force Directorate.
The Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) have formed an Air Force Directorate, in what appears to be a response to the recent airstrikes on Iraq.
A document leaked on September 5 revealed that the PMU had appointed Salah Mahdi Hantoush as a commander for the newly-formed Air Force Directorate, whose tasks are yet to be revealed.
“Mr. Salah Mahdi Hantoush is appointed as Acting Director of the [Air Force] Directorate,” the document, which was signed by the PMU’s deputy leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, reads.
In the last few months, several mysterious airstrikes targeted positions and personnel of the PMU throughout Iraq. In the most recent attack, a PMU commander was assassinated in a drone strike near the al-Qa’im crossing on the border with Syria.
Last month, the PMU held Israel and U.S. forces in Iraq responsible for any future attack on its bases or personnel and vowed to respond.
The formation of the Air Force Directorate appears to be the PMU’s first response to these airstrikes. The group may work in the upcoming few months to obtain air-defense systems from its allies, mainly Iran.