ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The chairman of the Iran-backed Hashd al-Shaabi militias, Falih Fayyadh, late Wednesday disputed an earlier statement from his deputy regarding recent attacks on weapons depots in Iraq run by various armed groups within the umbrella organization.
Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of the Hashd al-Shaabi, also known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), in a statement published on social media, blamed the US and Israel for a recent run of blasts at their warehouses. He suggested that Israeli aircraft had been behind them.
Muhandis asserted that the US had transported four Israeli drones into Iraq so that the Israelis could use them to “carry out sorties” against PMF targets. Claiming to speak for the PMF, he stated further that they ultimately held the Americans responsible for the attacks.
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The deputy chairman also stated the PMF would consider hostile any aircraft flying over their bases and would respond appropriately if the Iraqi government had not authorized the flights.
The anti-ISIS coalition, which is led by the US, denied the claims in an apparent response. “The mission of CJTF-OIR in Iraq is solely to enable our Iraqi Security Force partners in the mission of an enduring defeat of [ISIS],” the Spokesperson for Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) tweeted.
“We operate in Iraq at the invitation of the Government of Iraq and comply with their laws and direction,”
In his statement, Fayyadh affirmed that the attacks on PMF storage units were, as per a preliminary investigation, “planned foreign acts.” But he repudiated Muhandis’ claim of US and Israeli involvement, saying, it “does not represent the official position” of the PMF.
Muhandis and Fayyadh—who has been Iraq’s National Security Advisor (NSA) for two administrations—have been working together for years within the PMF. While the former is heavily involved with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the latter appears to be seeking to stay on neutral ground.
Late last year, as previous Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s hopes of getting reelected waned, Fayyad allied with Iran-backed entities, which opposed Abadi. Abadi, in turn, sacked Fayyadh from his NSA post. But the federal administrative court revoked the former PM’s decision.
The Iran-backed parliamentary coalition, Bina, repeatedly named Fayyadh as their candidate for the minister of interior amid an ongoing stalemate with Bina’s rival, Islah, which is led by the cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s Sairoon alliance. Fayyad did not get the ministry post but continues to serve Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi as his NSA.
Editing by Nadia Riva