Iraqi ambassador to UN threatens to arrest U.S. troops in the country for carrying airstrikes against Iranian-backed Iraqi militias

Iraq , Iran , US troops ,

On Thursday, the United States carried out an airstrike against five targets in southern Iraq in response to an attack on Wednesday by the pro-Iranian Shiite militias of Kataib Hezbollah at the military base in Taji

The Iraqi envoy to the United Nations threatened Tuesday to arrest U.S. troops in the country for carrying out airstrikes against Iranian-backed Iraqi militias amid growing tensions between U.S. troops and pro-Iranian groups. “Offenders will be arrested and held accountable” for the attacks on Iraqi militias last week, Iraq’s UN Permanent Representative Mohammed Hussein Bahr al-Uloom said in a draft letter, reported today al-Arabiya. Iran supports militias in Iraq that operate under the auspices of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU). The United States has designated some of the PMU militias, including Kataib Hezbollah, as terrorist organizations and increasingly conflict with them as the United States and Iran compete for influence in Iraq.

On Thursday, the United States carried out an airstrike against five targets in southern Iraq in response to an attack on Wednesday by the pro-Iranian Shiite militias of Kataib Hezbollah at the military base in Taji, north of Baghdad, in which two Americans and one British died. Kataib Hezbollah had released a statement praising those who carried out the attack, but had denied being responsible for it. The attack by the United States, carried out in collaboration with the British army, hit five different weapon depots that were supposed to contain the missiles used in the attack on the Taji base.

“The United States will not tolerate attacks on our people, our interests or our allies”, said US defense secretary Mark Esper in a statement. “As we have shown in recent months, we will take all necessary measures to protect our forces in Iraq and in the region.” Last December the United States carried out some air raids against Kataib Hezbollah’s militias in response to the killing of an American contractor during a missile attack in Kirkuk, Iraq. Those raids led first to the siege of the US embassy in Baghdad by pro-Iranian protesters and then to the killing of the Iranian general Qassim Soleimani, described as a terrorist, by the United States.

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