THE LEADER of the 12th brigade of the Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU), also known as the Nujaba Movement, Mushtaq Talib al-Saidi, was killed during a drone strike in the Iraqi capital Baghdad on the 4th of January.
Four missiles targeted Saidi’s vehicle as it was entering the PMU headquarters in Baghdad, located metres away from the Iraqi interior ministry complex.
Two of Saidi’s companions were also killed during the attack, while at least six others were wounded.
No party has taken responsibility for the attack.
However, the US army has been conducting airstrikes inside Baghdad over the past several weeks to confront dozens of resistance attacks by the Islamic Resistance in Iraq (IRI) on their bases in Iraq and Syria.
Iraqi authorities announced that the Ministerial Council for National Security would convene on Thursday under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani to discuss the latest violation of Iraq’s sovereignty.
‘In a blatant assault and violation of Iraq’s sovereignty and security, a drone carried out an act no different from terrorist acts by targeting a security headquarters in Baghdad,’ the spokesman for the Commander-in-Chief of the Iraqi armed forces said in a statement.
‘The Iraqi Armed Forces hold the (US-led) International Coalition Forces responsible for this unprovoked attack on an Iraqi security body, operating under the powers granted to it by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, which undermines all understandings between the Iraqi Armed Forces and the International Coalition Forces,’ the statement added, calling the drone strike ‘a dangerous escalation and assault on Iraq’.
Last Thursday’s attack comes one day after the third anniversary of the assassination of PMU deputy leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and Iranian anti-terror commander Qassem Soleimani by a US drone in the Iraqi capital.
It also comes in the same week as a terror attack that left dozens dead near Soleimani’s tomb in Iran and an Israeli attack on the Lebanese capital, Beirut – the first since 2006.
Last week, Sudani repeated warnings that his government is working on bringing an end to the presence of soldiers from a US-led coalition in the country.
‘With the presence of capable Iraqi forces, the Iraqi government is heading towards ending the presence of the international coalition forces,’ Sudani said.
Following the assassination of Muhandis and Soleimani in 2020, the Iraqi parliament voted to expel all foreign occupation troops from Iraq. Nonetheless, at least 2,500 US troops remain in the country in an ‘advisory’ role.
- Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the Secretary General of Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement, has vowed retaliation for the assassination of the senior Hamas leader in Beirut.
In a televised address on Wednesday, Nasrallah expressed condolences for the death of Saleh al-Arouri, the deputy head of Hamas’s politburo, and five others, killed in a drone strike on their office in southern Beirut a day earlier.
Nasrallah referred to Arouri as ‘a brother’ and ‘a grand commander’, condemning his assassination on Lebanese soil as a ‘blatant attack’ by the Zionist regime.
He indicated that those responsible for Arouri’s death would face consequences, hinting at potential attacks by resistance groups in Palestine and other Arab countries, including Lebanon, against Israeli-controlled targets.
Emphasising the gravity of the situation, Nasrallah stated: ‘This dangerous crime will not go unanswered and unpunished.’
He highlighted the significance of the attack, noting it was unprecedented since the 2006 war involving Hezbollah and Israel.
Nasrallah warned of a strong response to any direct attack on Lebanon in the context of the ongoing conflict in Palestine.
Reiterating warnings from US officials to Israel, he stressed that a new confrontation with Hezbollah would be costly.
Since early October, Hezbollah has engaged in conflict with Israel, responding to the Israeli military campaign in Gaza.
The attacks by Hezbollah aim to compel Israel to cease its aggression, which has resulted in over 22,000 deaths in Gaza.
In his remarks, Nasrallah also accused Israel of concealing its casualties in the clashes with Hezbollah, describing their operations against the Israeli regime as ‘effective’.
He further commented on the broader regional conflict, stating neither Israel nor the United States had achieved their objectives. Nasrallah referenced reports of a US navy destroyer leaving regional waters, suggesting a withdrawal without significant results.
Meanwhile, Itamar Ben-Gvir, a right-wing Israeli minister, has stated that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government should promote the migration of Gazans from the besieged territory to accommodate Israelis.
This statement comes as Israeli forces continue to instruct Palestinians in Gaza to vacate their homes.
Reacting to criticism from the United States regarding his stance on Gazan migration, Ben-Gvir defended his position last Tuesday night.
He argued that the migration of Gazans would benefit the State of Israel, ensuring the return and security of Israeli residents and soldiers.
‘The United States is our best friend, but first of all we will do what is best for the State of Israel,’ he posted on social media.
Simultaneously, Israeli warplanes were distributing leaflets in Khan Younis, urging civilians to evacuate.
Palestinians, however, maintain that the West Bank and the Gaza Strip form an indivisible geographic unit.
Younus, a Palestinian resident, shared his experience with Middle East Eye, explaining the challenges of finding safe refuge amidst the ongoing conflict.
The three-month bombing campaign in Gaza has led to the internal displacement of approximately 90% of the population.
As part of its military offensive, the Israeli military has been dropping leaflets in Gaza City and the northern Gaza Strip, directing residents to evacuate to supposedly safer areas south of the Wadi Gaza wetlands.
Families navigating through the devastation face the grim reality of destroyed buildings, casualties, and the risk of bombardment in the so-called ‘evacuation’ areas, which are also undergoing severe humanitarian crises. The Israeli bombardment has resulted in numerous civilian deaths in the very areas to which they have been directed to move.
Ben-Gvir, previously convicted of supporting terrorism and inciting racism, views the war as an opportunity to encourage Gazan migration, labelling it a ‘correct, just, moral, and humane solution’.
Similarly, Israel’s far-right Finance Minister, Bezalel Smotrich, stated that Israel aims to ‘permanently control the Gaza Strip to ensure security’.
He elaborated that this goal would be achieved through the establishment of Israeli settlements and a permanent military presence, with plans to present this strategy to the war cabinet soon.
Ahmad Tibi, a veteran Arab lawmaker in the Israeli parliament, condemned the rhetoric of Ben-Gvir and Smotrich as ‘inciting genocide’.
Tibi warned that a day might come when these senior ministers would face an international tribunal for war crimes.
The majority of Palestinians displaced following the Nakba (Catastrophe) in 1948, which marked the illegal proclamation of Israel, have resettled in neighbouring Arab states.
Arab leaders have consistently opposed any forced expulsion of Palestinians, deeming such actions illegal and unacceptable.