US officials have spent years blaming Kata’ib Hezbollah, an Iraqi Shia militia group allied to the Baghdad government in its battle with Daesh (ISIS)*, for a series of attacks against US forces in Iraq. The group has denied some of the allegations, and accused Washington of staging false flags.
Iraq’s battle against US “occupation” will not end until all uninvited foreign forces are out of the country, Abu Ali al-Askari, a senior commander of the Kata’ib Hezbollah brigades paramilitary group, has suggested.
“Whoever defends the occupation forces and the killers of the Iraqi people is a traitor criminal,” the commander added.
Long-standing tensions between US forces and Iraq’s Shia militias intensified dramatically in the wake of the January 2020 assassination of Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, leader of Kata’ib Hezbollah and deputy chairman of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces – an umbrella of mostly Shia militias founded in 2014 to fight Daesh.
The killings of Soleimani and Muhandis prompted Iraq’s parliament to push through a resolution demanding the complete ouster of US troops, and led to a major escalation of rocket attacks on US forces throughout the country. It also prompted the US to withdraw several thousand troops from Iraq amid the seething tensions.
By January 2021, Donald Trump’s Pentagon announced that it had reduced the number of US troops in Iraq from about 5,000 to…