ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – A faction inside the Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi vowed to target US troops in Iraq if they did not leave the country.
Saraya al-Ashura, a faction of the Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militias, threatened US troops and advisers based in Iraq, warning them to retreat the country or become new targets.
In a televised speech on Tuesday, Abdullatif al-Amidi, a commander from the Saraya al-Ashura, said that “the US has become our direct enemy after the Congress’ decision against some Hashd al-Shaabi factions.”
The US decision against Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba is “aimed at targeting the Islamic resistance and all Hashd al-Shaabi factions,” Al-Amidi continued.
The Hashd al-Shaabi commander also called on the US troops to immediately depart Iraq because “they have now become a target for our forces.”
The reaction comes after the US Congress designated some Iraqi Shia militias as terrorist organizations.
Saraya al-Ashura defected from Iranian-backed Asaib Ahl al-Haq in 2013. The militia used to be affiliated with Ammar al-Hakim’s Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq.
However, after Hakim’s defection from the Council and the establishment of the Al-Hikma Movement, they claimed their neutrality but remain an active faction of the Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi.
The spokesperson of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah Brigades in Iraq, Jaafar Husseini, previously said the group is opposed to any US military presence in Iraq after the Islamic State (IS) is fully defeated. He also called on US troops to prepare to leave the country.
In mid-2016, Saraya al-Salam, a militia group affiliated to Muqtada al-Sadr, the powerful Shia cleric, through its spokesperson, warned about continued US presence in Iraq.
The spokesperson told local Iraqi media that “if the US insists on sending troops to Iraq, they will be targeted as we are thirsty for American blood.”
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany