Akram al-Kaabi, the leader of Iran-backed Iraqi armed group Nujaba

Iran-Backed Iraqi Militia Group Vows More Attacks On US Forces

Friday, 02/02/2024

The Iran-backed Iraqi armed group Nujaba said on Friday it will continue launching attacks on US forces in the region until the Gaza war ends and US forces exit Iraq.

Nujaba's leader, Akram al-Kaabi, said in a statement that Nujaba and other factions in the Islamic Resistance in Iraq -- an umbrella group of hardline Shiite militias -- would continue operations.

The statement came a few days after Iraq's Kataib Hezbollah, another Iran-backed group, said it would pause attacks on US forces, a decision that followed the killing of three US service members in a drone attack in Jordan near the Syrian border by Iran-back militants. Part of Iran's so-called "Axis of Resistance," the umbrella group has claimed more than 150 attacks on US forces in Iraq and Syria since the Gaza war began.

Al-Kaabi said that he understood Kataib Hezbollah's decision.

The United States is preparing for strikes on Iran-linked targets in Iraq and Syria as it concluded that Iran manufactured the drone which slammed into a US base in Jordan. According to US officials, the response, expected to begin as soon as this weekend, will be “tiered,” mixing military actions with other steps that can be adjusted to signal that Washington does not seek further escalation.

Marking an escalation in tensions that have engulfed the Middle East, the drone attack in Jordan was the first deadly strike against US forces since the conflict began on October 7, when Tehran-backed Hamas invaded Israel, killed 1,200 mostly civilians and took hundreds of hostages.

In 2020, the US killed Iran Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani and Kataib Hezbollah leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in a drone strike at Baghdad airport. The strike came days after the US blamed Kataib Hezbollah for the killing of a US contractor.

Iraqi officials fear Washington's response to the killing of its soldiers could be severe, and along with Tehran pushed Kataib Hezbollah to stand down, sources told Reuters, hoping it could help de-escalate tensions.

Meanwhile, Iran's Revolutionary Guards, the IRGC, has reduced the presence of its senior officers in Syria due to a spate of deadly Israeli strikes and will rely more on its militia proxies.

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