Iraqi resistance groups call for probe into airstrikes
Iran’s foreign minister condemned the United States’ “dangerous” decision to hit the Iraqi forces at a border area of Syria, warning that some recent suspicious moves are aimed at souring relations between Tehran and Baghdad.
In a Saturday meeting with his Iraqi counterpart Fuad Hussein in Tehran, Mohammad Javad Zarif condemned Washington’s “dangerous” decision to target the Iraqi forces at a border region inside Syria, saying the illegal strikes have violated the sovereignty of that country.
He noted that a series of recent suspicious attacks on the Iraqi soil appear to be aimed at upsetting the relations between Baghdad and Tehran and disrupting the security and stability of Iraq, Tasnim News Agency reported.
“We stress the need for the Iraqi government’s action to find the perpetrators,” the top Iranian diplomat said about a recent attack on the airport of Erbil, which killed one foreign civilian contractor and wounded several others.
On Thursday, the US military carried out airstrikes on facilities in Syria’s eastern province of Deir ez-Zor in what it called a response to the Erbil attack.
The visiting foreign minister, for his part, expressed Iraq’s readiness to expand relations with Iran in various fields.
Pointing to a breakthrough in the negotiations about Iran’s access to its financial resources held in Iraq, the visiting foreign minister underlined that his country will not allow anybody to disturb the perfect relationship with Iran.
During his second trip to Tehran after taking office, the senior Iraqi diplomat has also held a meeting with Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani.
Reviving ‘organized terrorism’
Iran’s top security official warns that the “brutal” US air raid against positions of resistance groups was part of Washington’s attempts to revive “organized terrorism,” emphasizing that Tehran will never allow a resurgence of Takfiri terrorism in the region.
In a meeting with Hussein on Saturday, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani denounced the recent measures by the United States to strengthen and promote terrorist activities by Daesh in the region and said the recent brutal attack against the anti-terror resistance forces was indicative of the emergence of “a new round of organized terrorism”, Press TV reported.
“Iran and other countries fighting against terrorism will not allow [foreign-]affiliated Takfiri terrorism to revive once again in the region,” Shamkhani added.
He said the delay in the implementation of a bill passed by the Iraqi parliament on the expulsion of foreign military forces from the country have fueled crises in the region.
The attack was the first of its kind under new American President Joe Biden.
The airstrikes, which were carried out against facilities used by forces with Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), have been met with a negative reaction, with many observers likening Biden’s approach to that of his hawkish predecessor, Donald Trump.
The PMU – better known as Hashd al-Sha’abi – has been fighting remnants of the Takfiri Daesh terror group across border regions of Iraq and Syria in coordination with the governments in both Arab countries.
A US-led military coalition has been active inside Syria under the pretext of fighting Daesh since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate. The US military strikes in the Arab country have on many occasions resulted in civilian casualties and failed to fulfill their declared aim of countering terrorism.
Elsewhere in the meeting, Iran’s SNSC secretary stressed the importance of enhancing cooperation and making collective efforts among regional countries to reduce tensions and pave the way for constructive talks about possible ways to solve the ongoing crises.
Today’s peace and security in Iraq are the outcomes of the power of the religious leadership and statesmen as well as great efforts by the armed forces, and popular resistance groups, which should be safeguarded, Shamkhani said.
Calls for probe
Iraqi resistance groups denounced the US attack, calling for an investigation into the aerial assault.
Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said the air raid “was authorized in response to recent attacks against American and coalition personnel in Iraq and to ongoing threats to those personnel.
He also claimed that Iraqi investigative and intelligence work “helped lead to these successful strikes”.
Qais Khazali, leader of Iraq’s Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq movement, a subdivision of Hashd al-Sha’abi, said the deliberate continuation of the US attacks is in line with the Zionist regime’s interests and to the detriment of the Iraqis.
"We condemn the targeting of the headquarters of Hashd al-Sha’abi, which is performing its task of protecting Iraq's borders with Syria. This vile act shows the hostile policies of the new US government,” Khazali underlined.
"We emphasize that the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq is the only way to achieve stability in the country. The people’s will, political decisions and the strength of the Iraqi resistance are sufficient to realize that goal.”
Hadi al-Amiri, head of Fatah (Conquest) Alliance at the Iraqi parliament called on Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi to launch an investigation into the deadly US strike as well as the alleged intelligence cooperation between the Iraqi government and the Pentagon.
"Our intelligence indicates that, contrary to Washington's claims, Hashd al-Sha’abi and not the Iraqi Islamic Resistance in Syria was the target of the attack," Amiri said.
Iraqi lawmaker and Fatah spokesman Ahmed al-Asadi said the US act of aggression killed or injured 30 people.
"The repetition of the US bombing of Hashd al-Sha’abi positions and the barracks belonging to the Iraqi armed forces on the Syrian border is a clear violation of sovereignty and condemned," he said, urging the Iraqi government, nation and political factions to unite against such attacks.
Meanwhile, Iraq's al-Nujaba movement warned that the new US crime that targeted the PMU forces would not go unanswered.
Anti-US sentiment has been running high in Iraq following Washington’s assassination of top Iranian anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani and PMU deputy head Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis near Baghdad International Airport on January 3, 2020.
Two days after the cowardly US assassination operation, the Iraqi parliament voted for a resolution that called for the expulsion of all foreign forces, including the Americans.
Iraq rejects US claims on intel cooperation
In a statement carried by Al-Sumaria television network, Iraq’s Defense Ministry expressed surprise at the US claims about intelligence cooperation with Baghdad prior to Friday’s strike.
It said that Iraq’s ties with the US-led coalition forces are restricted to the fight against the Daesh terrorist group while preserving the country’s independence and sovereignty.
The Iraqi Interior Ministry also rejected the US claims, saying the cooperation with the coalition is only focused on boosting the capabilities of Iraqi security forces in policing works.