Iraqi Militia Leader Says Ceasefire with US Is Over
Dilan S. Hussein / Rudaw Net
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (November 20, 2020) —The leader of an Iranian-backed Iraqi militia group announced the end of a conditional ceasefire suspending attacks on American interests in the country after a child was killed by rocket fire on Baghdad’s green zone this week.
“The truce with the Americans has ended due to its conditions not being met,” Qais al-Khazali, leader of Asaib Ahl Al-Haq, said in a Thursday interview with Iraqi state media.
Late on Tuesday, rockets landed in Baghdad’s green zone killing a child and injuring five other civilians, just hours after the Pentagon announced it was reducing United States military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Iraq’s Iranian-backed militia groups escalated attacks on US targets in Iraq, including the embassy in Baghdad and bases housing American troops, after the US killed Qasem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s Quds force, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces, on January 3. The militias agreed in October to suspend the attacks on condition that Washington withdraws its troops.
Khazali said he does not support targeting the US embassy because it holds a diplomatic purpose, but asserted armed operations are crucial to meet a specific goal. “A stable future for Iraq depends on building state institutions. It is wrong to carry weapons without any reason, but only when it serves a clear goal,” he said. “Whenever the goal disappears, so do the weapons.”
Asaib Ahl Al-Haq is an Iranian-backed Shiite militia group and political party with representation in the Iraqi parliament.
In his interview, Khazali also criticized Iraq’s developing relationship with Saudi Arabia. “It is going to hurt fertile Iraqi land, and strongly harm our water reserves,” he said.
Saudi Arabia announced in mid-October it would increase their investments in Iraq by 10 billion Saudi riyals ($2.7 billion USD) and this week the land border at Arar was reopened after almost 30 years.
Iraqi Militias Agree to Suspend Attacks on US Targets
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (October 11, 2020) — Iranian-backed Iraqi militia groups have agreed to suspend attacks on American targets in Iraq on the condition the United States withdraw from the country, a spokesperson for one of the militias told Reuters on Sunday.
“The factions have presented a conditional ceasefire,” said Mohammed Mohi, spokesperson for Kataib Hezbollah. “It includes all factions of the resistance, including those who have been targeting US forces.”
The US embassy in Baghdad, military bases housing foreign troops, and convoys under contract to the US-led Global Coalition against the Islamic State (ISIS) have come under frequent rocket and IED (improvised explosive device) attack this year, after the US killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi Popular Mobilization Force (PMF) commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in a drone strike in Baghdad in January. A group called the Islamic Front for Resistance inside Iraq, whose aim is to force the withdrawal of American troops, has claimed responsibility for some of the attacks.
The Iraqi parliament passed a non-binding resolution in January calling for the withdrawal of foreign troops. Over the summer, the United States and Coalition nations have scaled back their footprint, handing over control of bases to Iraqi security forces and the Pentagon announced it would reduce US forces on the ground from 5,200 to 3,000 in September.
The Kataib Hezbollah spokesperson told Reuters the Iraqi government must implement the parliamentary resolution, though they were not issuing a deadline to do so. He vowed more serious attacks if Washington did not leave. “If America insists on staying and doesn’t respect the parliament’s decision, then the factions will use all the weapons at their disposal,” said Mohi.
Washington signaled late last month that it would close its embassy in Baghdad if the attacks did not cease, sparking fears within the Iraqi government. Iraq will plunge into “direct economic collapse” if the US follows through on that threat, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi said.
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