Pam Barker | Director of TLB Europe Reloaded Project
This would make, in effect, a second attack on ISIS-fighting Iraqi PMU/PMF forces in 48 hours, the first being the targeted assassination of their deputy leader, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis (pictured right), along with Iran’s top military leader, Major General Qassem Soleimani (left). Although there is reason to doubt all the elements of this report. See below.
As we’ve recently reported via Moon of Alabama (former German intelligence officer), the ‘militias’ or PMU/PMF units on Iraqi soil are in fact Iraqi troops that are part of the Iraqi military establishment and paid by the Iraqi government. Their set-up and training came from Iran historically, with the goal of defending Iraq against ISIS/ISIL when a third of both Syria and Iraq were occupied by them. As Craig Murray points out in his latest piece, ISIS/ISIL (including al Qaeda and al-Nusra) are pro-Sunni groups used by the West to target Shia-dominated countries (Iraq, Syria, Iran, etc. and the Shia group Hizbollah) for regime change. The post below refers to the December 29 US attack on an Iraqi PMF group:
Rania Khalek @RaniaKhalek – 18:44 UTC · Dec 29, 2019
The PMF group that was hit by the Americans has been fighting ISIS for years. They were on the front lines protecting Iraq from ISIS in Syria and engaged in the ongoing battles with ISIS in the Syrian and Iraqi deserts. They were THE line of defense. The American attack on this PMF group is not only a disproportionate act of revenge, it is also a threat to regional security. AND it’s pathetic for a so-called super power to get into a fight with a small militia.
We emphasize that point as the Trump administration, US media and even Zerohedge like to put the emphasis on “Iran-backed” in reference to the PMU/PMF forces, a neocon smear trick to whitewash US actions and disguise the regime-change element. The point here is that US actions are a direct affront to Iraqi sovereignty. Prediction from many is that Iraq is about to expel US forces from their soil. Even more so after this.
Further, these PMU/PMF forces already have a history of attacks against them. In the last few months, their bases have experienced explosions, and the base at the Iraq/Syria border crossing of Al-Qa’im (see map) suffered a drone attack, producing a very high casualty rate. Both episodes have been attributed among the PMU/PMF to Israel launching strikes from US bases inside northeastern Syria, although that is not confirmed. The opening of this border crossing, allowing free movement of goods from Iran, through Iraq into Syria, named the ‘Shia Crescent’, has incensed the US and Israel.
From thence we had the December 29 retaliatory missile strike on the US base at Kirkuk killing a US mercenary, which led to the US attack on five Kata’ib Hizbollah (part of PMU/PMF forces) targets in the Anbar desert in western Iraq, producing a high number of casualties. The choice of these targets, and then Qassem Soleimani himself, simply assumes that Iran is behind the December 29 attacks based on no hard evidence and no investigation, whereas there was sufficient motive among Iraqi troops, as well as others, for such retaliatory strikes on US bases.
Now, we apparently have a fresh round of US air strikes against a convoy allegedly carrying PMU/PMF leaders north of Baghdad, killing six, and a possible second convoy attack in the Nineveh governorate.
Al Masdar News (US denies carrying out attack that killed 6 members of Hashd Al-Shaabi) is carrying US denials of responsibility for this attack. Apparently, a convoy was hit but it contained a medical team and not high-ranking PMU/PMF members:
Many of the commanders were forced to issue statements denying these reports; this includes Shibl Al-Zaida, who used his twitter account to confirm he was alive.
Hashd Al-Shaabi later said that the six people killed in the strikes were members of a medical team and not high-ranking officials.
Thus far, no group has claimed responsibility for this attack, despite preliminary overnight reports.
Round Two: US Drone Airstrikes Kill Six Pro-Iran Militia Commanders
Whether he is eating ice cream or not, Trump appears to be on a rampage to recreate the end of The Godfather.
Less than 24 hours after a US drone shockingly killed the top Iranian military leader, Qasem Soleimani, resulting in equity markets groaning around the globe in fear over Iranian reprisals (and, potentially, World War III), the US has gone for round two with Reuters and various other social media sources reporting that US air strikes targeting Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units umbrella grouping of Iran-backed Shi’ite militias near camp Taji north of Baghdad, have killed six people and critically wounded three, an Iraqi army source said late on Friday.
Iraqi official media has also confirmed that two vehicles were targeted north of Baghdad, carrying commanders of the pro-Iran militias in the PMUs.
Separate reports claim that Shibl al-Zaidi, a commander of Kataib Imam Ali brigades, an Iranian-backed militia and the PMU’s 40th Brigade, is among those the six who were killed in the strike.
Al-Zaidi was close (see on left) to Soleimani & Abu Mahdi al-Mohandis, both killed 24hrs ago.
That said, there are conflicting reports, with some noting that a Twitter account allegedly belonging to al-Zaidi tweeted that he is alive after the attack.
Additionally, Hamad al-Jazairi, the deputy leader of Saraya al-Khorasani, was also reportedly among those killed tonight.
In separate, unconfirmed reports, yet another airstrike is said to have targeted a convoy in Iraq’s Nineveh governorate.
… to the objectively concerned, with some wondering how much further is Iraq going to let US operate freely in country before they decide to kick their assets out? These airstrikes really make the Iraqi government look weak like they can’t deal with their problems by themselves, which may or may not be true, but the point stands.”
Of course, the other point is when and how will Iran respond, as it is now clear that if it does nothing, it will only embolden the US to pick off its top generals, while any substantial escalation could lead to a regional war.
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