Another Iran-backed militia group threatens US troops in Iraq

By Ahmad Majidyar | Fellow and Director of IranObserved Project - The Middle East Institute | Feb 8, 2018
Another Iran-backed militia group threatens US troops in Iraq

A senior official of Harakat al-Nujaba, an Iranian-supported militia group fighting in Iraq and Syria, issued a threat against the US military in Iraq and called on Washington to pull out its troops from the country, the Iranian media reported. “We will never forget the atrocities of the United States in our country and we still have not settled a score with America,” Nasr al-Shamri, an executive director of the group said in a live interview with Al-Furat TV in Iraq. He further called on the Baghdad government to formalize “an exact timetable” for the US withdrawal from the country. The Nujaba official also argued that the “resistance groups” need to continue their activities since ISIS remains a threat and that the US also continues its “occupation” in Iraq. He claimed that more than 9,000 American troops are currently stationed in Iraq.

Comment: With the collapse of ISIS, Tehran and its militia allies have dialed up propaganda against American troops and are pressuring the Baghdad government to chart a timetable for the US withdrawal. Iran-backed militia groups within Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Force are also increasingly threatening violence against the US troops advising and assisting the Iraqi security forces. This week, several Iran-linked PMF groups issued veiled and direct threats against the US military.

Harakat al-Nujaba – also known as Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba – is a prominent Iraqi sectarian group that operates both in Iraq and Syria under the leadership of IRGC Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani. It has been fighting in Syria since 2013. Kaabi has pledged allegiance to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. The IRGC uses the Nujaba group not just to fight the Islamic State, but also as a pressure tool against the Baghdad government, regional countries, and the United States.

In March, the Nujaba movement announced the creation of a new brigade to seize the Golan Heights – claiming that “latest victories” against the Islamic State and Sunni rebels in Iraq and Syria have allowed the group and its allies to focus on Israel. Leaders of the group claimed that members of the new brigade are highly-trained, well-equipped and capable of fighting the Jewish state. “Israel is weaker than a spider web. Islamic resistance is capable of confronting the axis of evil and annihilating the occupying Zionist regime,” Kaabi told Lebanon-based Arabic-language al-Mayadeen news network.