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US strikes against Hashd Sha’abi forces on Iraqi-Syrian border great mistake: MP

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This handout satellite image taken and released by Maxar Technologies on February 26, 2021 shows the aftermath of recent US airstrikes on a small group of buildings at an unofficial crossing at the Syria-Iraq border near al-Qa’im, Iraq. (Photo via AFP)

A senior Iraqi lawmaker has denounced last week’s US military airstrikes against the positions of anti-terror Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) – better known by the Arabic name Hashd al-Sha’abi – on the Iraqi-Syrian border as an act of sheer folly.

“The US government is well aware of the status quo here in Iraq, and therefore it is unlikely for Washington to repeat the mistake of targeting Hashd al-Sha’abi forces,” Kata’a al-Rikabi, a member of the Security and Defense Committee in the Iraqi parliament, told Arabic-language Baghdad Today news website on Thursday.

He described the latest US air raids against the PMU forces “as a huge and grave mistake,” emphasizing that the PMU is part of the Iraqi armed forces.

“The Iraqi parliament’s Security and Defense Committee has frequently warned US forces against such raids, and asked them whether their deployment to Iraq is meant to help Iraqi troops or to stand in their way. We have not received any answers regarding these unjustified attacks yet,” Rikabi noted.

“Americans had better strike terrorist groups that are trying to infiltrate into Iraq through Syrian border, than hit our forces,” the Iraqi lawmaker said.

He pointed out that “there is no danger to the US embassy or other foreign diplomatic missions [in Iraq] that would necessitate an increase in US troop levels.”

Separately, Karim al-Muhammadawi, another member of the Iraqi parliament's committee on security and defense, told Arabic-language al-Maalomah news agency that popular resistance against illegal military occupation is a legitimate right guaranteed by international law, expressing surprise over the Baghdad government’s procrastination to implement a parliamentary bill demanding the withdrawal of all foreign military forces led by the United States from the country.

“The presence of American occupation forces grants popular resistance forces the legal right to confront their plots,” Muhammadawi said.

He also voiced astonishment over the Iraqi government's “silence on repeated US attacks on Popular Mobilization Units.”

“The current administration [of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi] has softened the parliament’s decision to expel foreign forces. Such procrastination will give popular resistance forces the legal right to expel the occupier through legitimate means,” Muhammadawi pointed out.

Anti-US sentiments have been running high in Iraq since the assassination of top Iranian anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, and his Iraqi trenchmate Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of the Popular Mobilization Units, along with their companions in a US assassination drone airstrike authorized by former US president Donald Trump near Baghdad International Airport on January 3 last year.

Iraqi lawmakers approved a bill two days after the attack, demanding the withdrawal of all foreign military forces led by the United States from the country.

Currently, there are approximately 2,500 American troops in Iraq.

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