Iran-backed armed groups in Iraq announced Friday that they will resume attacks on US forces in response to the targeted killing of a senior militia figure earlier this week.
Wisam Mohammed Saber al-Saedi (aka Abu Baqer) was killed by a US drone strike in Baghdad Wednesday, reportedly for his role in the drone attack on a US base in Jordan that killed three American soldiers and wounded forty more.
In a statement Friday, the umbrella group of Iran proxies, Islamic Resistance in Iraq (IRI), said the killing of Abu Baqer “violated all the rules of engagement” and proved that the Americans only understand the “language of weapons.”
Iran-backed groups, including Abu Baqer’s Kataib Hezbollah, had announced a suspension of attacks against US troops following the large-scale retaliatory strikes by the US military on dozens of targets in Iraq and Syria on February 3. The decision, they claimed, was made not to embarrass the Iraqi government any further. But the pledge for a unilateral ceasefire didn’t last long.
“The opportunity of the past few days revealed with certainty to the Iraqi people, friends, and responsible authorities, that the occupying enemy does not abandon its meanness and treachery, and does not understand anything other than the language of weapons,” the IRI said in their statement.
The fight will now continue until the Americans are “expelled from the country,” it added, “forced to submit and be defeated”.
The IRI announcement seems to validate assessments that the US retaliatory strikes would likely fail to end the conflict unless it inflicts pain on Iran’s IRGC and forces it to pressure its proxies to stop.
Biden critics have repeatedly warned that his reluctance to confront Iran would further embolden the regime to push its malign adventures to the limit, getting to a point where the administration is left with no choice but to use even more force than what could have established deterrence and prevented escalation at an earlier stage.
“The fact that we had three servicemen killed is a failure of deterrence,” former US Special Operations Commander Gen. Tony Thomas told CBS. “Clearly, our adversary wasn’t getting the message that we weren’t going to tolerate that… I don’t know the measures so far have sent that message, and certainly with five days of telegraphing that we’re going to do something, and also with the caveat that we don’t want this to boil over into a bigger event –I think that’s your hold card. You don’t say that going into it.”
The Biden administration waited five days before responding to the deadly drone attack on the US base in Jordan, all the while speaking of its intention to strike back, which many believe took the element of surprise out of the operation and allowed Iran to move its interests out of harm’s way.
That surprise element seems to have been delegated to the Israelis.
Early hours of Saturday Syria time, the Israeli military targeted a building west of the Syrian capital Damascus, according to multiple local sources.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported “violent explosions'' in Dimas. Sabereen News, affiliated with Iran’s IRGC, said two people had been killed and several injured.
“The Zionists are trying to kill an important individual but haven’t succeeded in the last few days,” Sabereen posted on their Telegram channel. “We should wait and see if they have gotten to their target in Dimas or the assassination has failed again.”
Despite long years of financial and military support to Hamas, the Iranian regime has avoided direct involvement in the Gaza war. Instead, its proxies in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen have unleashed attacks against US and Israeli targets, and strikes against international shipping in the Red Sea.