Iraqi leaders say raid on Kata’ib Hezbollah HQ ‘dictated by US’

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Iraqi leaders say raid on Kata’ib Hezbollah HQ ‘dictated by US’


S enior Iraqi leaders say the US was behind the Thursday raid on the headquarters of Kata'ib Hezbollah, which raised serious questions about Iraq's direction under the new government.

Kata'ib Hezbollah is an anti-US unit operating under Hashd al-Sha'abi - an Iraqi umbrella group also known as Popular Mobilization Forces (PMU) which includes more than 40 militia groups fighting Takfiri terrorism.

“The late Thursday night's operation against Hashd al-Sha’abi had been dictated by the United States. There are foreign interventions and bids to harm the PMU,” Qais al-Khazali, leader of Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq which is part of the PMU, said in a statement released on Friday.

He advised Iraqi officials not to engage in a confrontation with Hashd al-Sha’abi as the anti-terror group represents people from all strata of the Iraqi society.

“No one can prevent the resistance fighters from battling US forces in order to drive them out of Iraq if they do not withdraw through peaceful means,” Khazali pointed out.

He stressed that no resistance faction has ever targeted Iraqi government institutions inside Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone.

Don’t play into US hands: Nujaba official

A senior official with Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba also called upon Iraqi authorities not to play into the hands of US military forces, warning against further raids on PMU headquarters.

Nasr al-Shammari, the deputy secretary-general and official spokesman of the movement, touched on numerous sacrifices made by Kata'ib Hezbollah in the campaign against Daesh terrorists, saying members of the group must not be targeted.

Shammari cited efforts by certain parties in Iraq to stoke sedition in Iraq, saying the Thursday raid was "a desperate attempt" that would have "unpredictable consequences for its planners”.

Iraq's Counter Terrorism Service must fight Daesh'

Meanwhile, Friday prayers leader of Najaf Sayyid Sadr al-Din al-Qabanchi denounced the raid on Kata'ib Hezbollah and detention of more than a dozen members of the anti-terror group.

Iraq's elite Counter Terrorism Service, he said, must fight Daesh and other terrorist sleeper cells instead of targeting Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters.

Qabanchi also advised the Iraqi government to address the country's problems, such as the ongoing Turkish military offensive, economic woes and the coronavirus pandemic, rather than target anti-terror groups. Hashd al-Sha’abi is a thorn in the side of the United States which is widely believed to be managing an array of militant groups, including Daesh, to advance its Israel-centric agenda in the region.

In November 2016, the Iraqi parliament voted to integrate the PMU, which was formed shortly after the emergence of Daesh in Iraq in 2014, into the military.

On March 27, the New York Times newspaper reported that the Pentagon had ordered a secret directive, which called on US military commanders to prepare a campaign against Kata'ib Hezbollah.

In April, a member of the Iraqi parliament's security and defense committee had warned about ulterior motives behind the redeployment of US troops to various military sites across the Arab country, saying Washington was drawing up plans to target PMU and its affiliates.

Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters have played a major role in the liberation of areas held by the Daesh terrorists ever since the Takfiri group launched an offensive in the country, overrunning vast swathes in lightning attacks.

In 2009, the US State Department blacklisted Kata'ib Hezbollah and imposed sanctions on the group which has been the frequent target of American airstrikes in Iraq.

Iraqi lawmakers unanimously approved a bill on January 5, demanding the withdrawal of all foreign troops following the US assassination of Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, along with Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of Iraq's PMU, and their companions.

Later on January 9, former Iraqi prime minister, Adel Abdul-Mahdi, called on the United States to dispatch a delegation to Baghdad tasked with formulating a mechanism for the move.

The 78-year-old politician said Iraq rejected any violation of its sovereignty, particularly the US military's violation of Iraqi airspace in the assassination airstrike.


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