Jihadist Group Vows to Expel US Forces from Iraq
The Kataib Hezbollah faction, a resistance group, has vowed to attack US forces in Iraq until the last soldier flees, leaves the country for good. Militia factions in Iraq have been getting bolder amid Israel-Hamas war in Gaza. The Iraqi militant groups have been disgruntled because of US support for Israel.
Attacks against US forces in Iraq have intensified. There have been dozens of rocket and drone strikes by pro-Iran groups, since mid-October, against American or coalition forces in Iraq and Syria. The US Secretary of State spokesperson Matthew Miller said several Iran-aligned militias that operate freely in Iraq threaten the security and stability of Iraq, US personnel, and partners in the region. “We urge the Iraqi Security Forces to immediately investigate and arrest the perpetrators of these attacks and bring them to justice.”
The US embassy in Iraq was the target of a multi-mortar attack on Friday, followed by rockets and drone attacks on the US and coalition forces in Syria and Iraq.
US Forces See Intensity of Attacks
Abu Ali al-Askari, a senior official of the Kataib Hezbollah facton, warned that Friday’s attack was the start of a new phase of confrontations and the coming days will determine the intensity of our responses. “Any foolishness from the American enemy will be met with severe retaliatory measures and an expansion of operations.”
Stephanie Savell, a researcher, said militia groups angry about Israel’s conduct in Gaza and the West Bank are taking revenge on US forces because they are right there in nearby Iraq and Syria. But the US hasn’t taken much retaliatory action. Sabrina Singh, the deputy Pentagon press secretary, said the US decides when and where it wants to retaliate, and there doesn’t need to be a tit-for-tat exchange of firepower or comparative action every time there’s an attack.
“We’re incredibly strategic about when we decide to take kinetic action, and you saw that on October 26. It’s how successful we can be about damaging and destroying infrastructure that they have used too, and that’s exactly what we did.”
US Know its Limits in Iraq
Michael Knights, co-founder of the Militia Spotlight at the Washington Institute, says the US knows it’s not worth to engage the militias at this moment because escalation could send the Middle East into chaos.
“If you are the US, you’ve made a decision that under normal circumstances, if these militias were flicking little matches at us, we’d flick two matches back every so often just because we don’t want Americans to get killed. Under these circumstances, we are saying ‘Listen, we’re sitting on a powder keg that’s under everyone’s house, and it doesn’t matter if they flick matches at us, we’re not going to flick matches back at them because we are not that irresponsible.”
The US also fears that the Israeli war with Hamas could expand into a regional conflict.