THE United States’ latest military aggression against Iraq’s popular Hashd al-Sha’abi forces that left dozens of casualties continues to draw widespread condemnation from officials and groups across the region.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi has said that the US airstrikes targeting forces that have helped defeat Daesh in Iraq are a ‘clear example of terrorism’.
The US said on Sunday it had targeted weapons caches or command and control facilities linked to Kata’ib Hezbollah in western Iraq, as well as eastern Syria.
‘These attacks have once again proved America’s false claims in fighting the Takfiri group of Daesh as the United States has targeted the positions of forces that over the years have inflicted heavy blows to Daesh terrorists,’ Mousavi said Monday.
‘With these attacks, America has shown its firm support for terrorism and its disregard for the independence and sovereignty of countries and it must accept responsibility for the consequences of its illegal act,’ he said.
In a statement on Monday, Iraq’s popular Hashd al-Sha’abi said the death toll from the US airstrikes had risen to 25, vowing to avenge the ‘aggression of evil American ravens’.
The attacks came after the US said a barrage of more than 30 rockets fired on Friday against a military base in Kirkuk had killed an American civilian contractor.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday accused Tehran, saying the US ‘will not stand for the Islamic Republic of Iran to take actions that put American men and women in jeopardy’.
Iraqi leaders, including Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi and President Barham Salih, strongly condemned the airstrikes. Kata’ib Hezbollah commander Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes warned of a strong response to the aggression.
‘The blood of the martyrs will not be in vain and our response will be very tough on the American forces in Iraq,’ he said.
Iraq’s Parliament speaker Mohammad al-Halbusi also condemned the airstrikes, saying they ‘indubitably constituted a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty’.
Iran offered condolences to the families of those killed in the ‘terrorist attack’ and reiterated its support for Iraq’s independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty.
Foreign Minister Mousavi also called on the United States to end its ‘occupying’ presence in the region, which he called the cause of insecurity, tension and crisis.
The spokesman urged the US to ‘respect Iraq’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity and stop interfering in its internal affairs.’
Iraq’s Popular Mobilisation Units say US forces attacked their base in the western Anbar province.
In Lebanon, the resistance movement Hezbollah released a statement, saying the attacks amounted to Washington’s ‘alignment with and reinforcement’ of Daesh terrorists.
The strikes were carried out against the forces which protect Iraq’s stability and security, Hezbollah said, adding they were aimed at weakening the foundation of Iraq’s popular defensive structure.
‘The US plan for the Middle East is to deny regional countries, including Iraq, freedom of action, public security, genuine sovereignty, and a bright future,’ the statement said.
‘The Americans will soon see the consequence and fallout of their idiotic move,’ Hezbollah added.
Pentagon chief Mark Esper on Sunday boasted that the airstrikes were ‘successful’ and pledged ‘additional actions’ may still be taken in the region which is already reeling from US escalation of tensions.
The US invaded Iraq in 2003 under the pretext of ‘war on terror’, plunging the country into a cycle of violence which continues to this day.
In 2014, Iraq was invaded by Daesh as the US and its allies looked on, putting the Arab country on the brink of being overtaken by Takfiri terrorists.
Iran was the first country to rush to Iraq’s assistance, famously preventing the fall of capital Baghdad to Daesh. Iranian military advisers also helped train Iraqi volunteers for battle following Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani’s fatwa for Jihad.
Those volunteers now constitute the backbone of popular forces such as Hashd al-Sha’abi which have formally been integrated into Iraq’s regular armed forces.
Iraqi President Barham Salih on Sunday decried the US airstrikes as unacceptable which contradicted security agreements signed between Baghdad and Washington.
- The United States is in pursuit of only one disgraceful objective through its military presence in Syria and that is plundering its oil, says Iran’s Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani.
‘US President Donald Trump’s remarks clearly proved that the Americans only seek to steal Syria’s oil and this is a disgrace for a country that claims to be a superpower, because the country, which has a claim to the management of the entire world, has been degraded to a robber,’ Larijani said in a meeting with a delegation of representatives from Syrian tribes in Tehran on Sunday.
In late October, Washington reversed an earlier decision to pull out all of its troops from northeastern Syria, announcing the deployment of about 500 soldiers to the oil fields controlled by Kurdish forces in the Arab country.
The US claimed that the move was aimed at protecting the fields and facilities from possible attacks by the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group. That claim came even as Trump had earlier suggested that Washington sought economic interests in controlling the oilfields.
Last month, Syria told the United Nations that the US had been occupying its oil fields and looting its resources as the world body remained silent on the act of misappropriation.
‘The US occupies Syrian oil wells and plunders the Syrians’ revenues in the shadow of the UN Security Council’s silence,’ Syria’s UN Ambassador Bashar al-Ja’afari told a meeting of the 15-member body in New York on November 13.
Syria’s state-run Al-Ikhbariya TV reported on December 16 that a large US military convoy had entered oil fields in northeastern Syria, despite widespread denunciation of the deployment as being tantamount to robbery.
The US reinforcements, the television said, had been dispatched to the provinces of Hasakah and Dayr al-Zawr from neighbouring Iraq.
Elsewhere in his remarks, the top Iranian parliamentarian slammed certain countries for setting conditions for the reconstruction of Syria, saying, ‘The Islamic Republic of Iran opposes any move against Syria’s territorial integrity and any act of aggression against this country, and supports Syria in its fight against terrorism and in its reconstruction drive.’
Larijani added that Syria has played a very influential role in strengthening the resistance movement in recent decades, particularly under the circumstances that some countries do not favour tranquillity in Syria and have inflicted severe damage on the infrastructure of the country.
He emphasised that under normal circumstances and free from crisis, no country would dare to carry out any act of adventurism in Syria.
Larijani also warned that the presence of terrorist groups in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib has many adverse consequences, calling for an immediate settlement of the issue.
On August 5, the Syrian army declared the start of an offensive against foreign-sponsored militants in Idlib. This came after those positioned in the de-escalation zone failed to honour a ceasefire brokered by Russia and Turkey and continued to target civilian neighbourhoods.
Under the Sochi agreement, all militants in the demilitarised zone that surrounds Idlib, and also parts of the provinces of Aleppo and Hama, were supposed to pull out heavy arms by October 17 last year, with the Takfiri groups having to withdraw two days earlier.
The National Front for the Liberation of Syria is the main Turkish-backed militant alliance in the Idlib region, but the Takfiri Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) terrorist group, which is a coalition of different factions of terror outfits largely composed of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, holds a large part of the province and the zone.
The HTS, which is said to be in control of a large part of Idlib, has yet to announce its stance on the buffer zone deal.
Syria’s official news agency SANA said on Thursday that Syrian troops have liberated several key villages and adjoining farms during a large-scale counter-terrorism offensive in Idlib.
Official news agency SANA said troops pressed ahead with their advances in the southeastern countryside of Idlib on Thursday, and liberated strategic villages of Halban, Samaka, Tal Khatra and Khirbet Nawwaf from Takfiri terrorists.
The capture came after ‘intense battles’ with the extremists, SANA said, noting that army soldiers inflicted heavy losses upon them and destroyed their vehicles and military hardware.