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Over 100 organizations urge Biden to end US program of ‘lethal strikes’ abroad

Members of Iraq’s Hashd al-Sha’abi (PMU) resistance group march in a symbolic funerary parade in the capital Baghdad on June 29, 2021, in remembrance of those killed in a US raid against the PMU’s 14th Brigade. (Photo by AFP

Scores of organizations from the United States and around the world have called on US President Joe Biden to end the US program of lethal strikes outside recognized battlefields, including the use of drones, days after Biden ordered airstrikes against the positions of Iraqi resistance groups along the Iraqi-Syrian border that killed four Iraqi fighters.

“Successive presidents have now claimed the unilateral power to authorize secretive extrajudicial killing outside any recognized battlefield, with no meaningful accountability for wrongful deaths and civilian lives lost and injured,” 113 organizations wrote in a letter addressing the US President on Wednesday.

“This program is a centerpiece of the United States’ forever wars and has exacted an appalling toll on Muslim, Brown, and Black communities in multiple parts of the world,” read the letter, which was signed by organizations based in the United States as well as in countries impacted by the program, including Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan.

They hinted at the events that followed the 9/11 attacks as a war-based approach that has lasted twenty years and has undermined and violated fundamental rights, urging Biden to abandon such an approach and embrace one that advances the world’s collective human security.

In the early hours of Monday, the US military conducted airstrikes against Iraqi resistance groups, including the headquarters of the 14th Brigade of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), prompting a rocket attack against an illegal American base in the eastern Syrian province of Dayr al-Zawr.

Iraqi resistance groups have vowed to take harsh revenge against the US military’s positions in Iraq with the ultimate aim of driving all US forces out of their country.

The Wednesday letter also called on the Biden administration to use its ongoing review of the program, as well as the upcoming 20th anniversary of 9/11, as an opportunity to disavow and end the lethal strikes program for good.

“This lethal strikes program is a cornerstone of the broader US war-based approach, which has led to wars and other violent conflicts; hundreds of thousands dead, including significant civilian casualties; massive human displacement; and indefinite military detention and torture. It has caused lasting psychological trauma and deprived families of beloved members, as well as means of survival.”

‘Resistance groups fully prepared to take revenge’

Seyyed Mohammad Tabatabaee, the deputy director general of Iraq’s Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq resistance group, said on Wednesday that resistance groups are fully prepared to exact revenge on the US.

“The US’s brutal attack on Hashd al-Sha’abi (PMU) was not the first time such an attack had occurred,” Tabatabaee told Alahad TV, calling on the Iraqi government to state its position on the attack.

“We will never remain silent in the face of these attacks,” he said. “We promise the families of the martyrs that we will exact vengeance on the US for the martyrs.”

Tabatabaee noted that the occupying forces of the US military repeatedly attack Iraq, vowing to rid the Arab nation of the Daesh (ISIS) terrorists as well as the American occupation forces.

The latest US government’s misadventure in Iraq comes almost two weeks after the US Congress repealed the 2002 authorization for the use of military force by the US president in Iraq and in spite of Biden’s pledge to end the United States’ “forever wars” in the Middle East.

It was then followed on Tuesday by Congress’s vote against a pair of outdated war authorizations, via one bill that would repeal the 1991 Persian Gulf War authorization and a second that would rescind a vague Cold War-era military authorization for the Middle East passed in 1957.

‘US must immediately leave Iraq’

Iraq’s anti-terror Kata'ib Hezbollah resistance group also warned the US of a “stronger response” this time and said the US must immediately leave Iraq.

“The Iraqi people do not accept their presence in Iraq. The US acts of aggression are premeditated. The US presence [in Iraq] is not for the purpose of serving Iraq and training [Iraqis], but for planning to achieve Israel’s hostile and pre-arranged objectives,” Muhammad Mohi, the spokesman for the group, said on Wednesday.

Mohi explained that the US presence in Iraq is intended to tighten its grip over the Arab nation in a way that would serve the aggressive plots and policies of Israel.

“US forces occasionally target Hashd al-Sha’abi border guards on the Iraqi-Syrian border, the most recent of such attack was conducted in the past few days, as a result of which a number of people were martyred and wounded,” he added.

In recent years, the US has conducted numerous attacks against PMU forces, who have played a major role in the defeat of Daesh in Iraq and Syria.

Biden’s first military strike as president – needless to say, illegal – was against the Iraqi resistance groups on the Iraqi-Syrian border, only a month after he assumed office.

His predecessor, Donald Trump, committed his most reckless military provocation by assassinating Iran’s top anti-terror commander, Qassem Soleimani, along with the deputy commander of the PMU, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a year earlier.

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