The already strained relations between the US and Iraq are deteriorating further, after the US struck units, part of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) on the evening of December 29th. According to the reports, at least 25 were killed and 51 were injured as a result of the US strikes on five positions of Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH).
KH is a core group of the PMU, which is the most military capable force in Iraq, they are the force primarily behind the defeat of ISIS in many areas of the country, and are an official part of the Iraqi Armed Forces.
The US carried out “precision defensive strikes” on its formal ally in the face of the Iraqi government and its armed forces, with the pretext that they are backed by Iran, and are allegedly ‘terrorists’.
The US airstrike came in response to a shelling on the K1 military camp, hosting US-led forces. The shelling took place on December 27th, and several US troops were injured, while 1 US defense contractor was killed.
The US accused Iran, as well as Iranian-linked militants for carrying out the attack, and specifically the PMU, despite having no evidence that either had anything to do with it. Washington’s forces then carried out the strikes in follow up of their accusations.
Earlier in December, rockets were fired at two Iraqi air bases where American forces are stationed. Seven rockets struck the perimeter of the Al Asad base, and five projectiles landed inside Balad. At Al Asad, the Iraqi army later found a truck rigged to fire rockets with seven empty tubes and eight unfired projectiles.
Iraqi troops were even injured in strikes on a facility near the Baghdad International Airport.
In response to the US airstrikes, Iraqi President Barham Salih has condemned Washington’s attacks on Kata’ib Hezbollah. Salih decried the attacks as being unacceptable and damaging for the country, adding that the strikes were contrary to security agreements inked between Baghdad and Washington.
Major General Abdul Karim Khalaf, spokesman for the Commander-in-Chief of the Iraqi Armed Forces, also said that Adel Abdul-Mahdi, currently Iraq’s caretaker prime minister, has voiced his opposition to the attacks in a message to US Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
“Bombing PMU bases is a dangerous aggravation which endangers the security of Iraq and the region,” Iraqi media sources cited Abdul-Mahdi.
Factions within the PMU issued an official threat to the US for a military response. A spokesman for Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, which is part of the PMU, said that the group considered the American aggression against PMU sites in the Iraqi-Syrian borders as an expression of the failure of its agendas.
The statement, furthermore, said that the American aggression is condemned and a violation that requires all Iraqis to stand with strength and solidity.
The group furthermore said that the US presence in Iraq was unwanted and that it was actually beneficial to ISIS and other terrorist groups.
Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, deputy head of the Popular Mobilization Units and the head of Kata’ib Hezbollah, vowed that the American forces in Iraq would face a “harsh response.”
The Popular Mobilization Units said, in a statement, following the American attack, that the attack targeted the leadership of the Al-Jazeera operations sector in Anbar Province and the location of the 45th and 46th Brigades.
The Director of the Movements Directorate in the Popular Mobilization Units, Jawad Kazim Hussain, confirmed that the 45th and 46th Brigades are affiliated with the Al-Jazeera Operations Command for the Popular Mobilization and their mission is to defend Iraq from the western side.
Hussein said that “the 45th and 46th Brigades, which are located in the western borders of Iraq, are under the command of Al-Jazeera Operations for the Popular Mobilization Units and their duty is defensive in coordination with the rest of the security forces and instructs the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces.”
He added, “The American targeting yesterday night aims to obstruct the security plans and measures taken to prevent ISIS’s criminal infiltration into and out of Iraqi territory.”
Yemen’s Houthis issued a statement on the US actions in Iraq.
Ansar Allah’s (Houthis) Political Bureau condemned the American aggression on the Popular Mobilization Units sites, considering the attack as a brutal attack on Iraq and its forces. They said that they are opposoing the devastating American project in the region.
The Houthis further said that the time had come for all forces and parties in Iraq to unite against a “grave threat in their country.”
On December 23rd, an Ambassador appointed by Yemen’s Houthis to Tehran Ibrahim Dailami has signed a military cooperation deal with Iran, in the first such formal deal between the two parties.
“The group’s ambassador conveyed the greetings from the Minister of Defense in Sana’a, Major General Mohammad El-Atefi, and the Chief-of-Staff, Major General Mohammad Al-Ghammari, to the Iranian Minister of Defence,” praising “the cooperative relations that link the two countries at various levels and the Iranian position towards aggression against Yemen,” the Houthi affiliated Al-Masirah TV reported.
Thus, with the Houthis, Iran and the Iraqi Armed Forces, it is possible that Washington should brace for a response.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- US Conducts Airstrikes On Iran-backed Force In Iraq And Syria After US Contractor Killed
- 25 Killed, 51 Injured In US Strikes On Kataib Hezbollah Positions In Syria, Iraq
- U.S. Announces Strikes Against ‘Iranian-backed Forces’ In Iraq, Syria