Attacks against US troops foiled, say Iraqi security forces

American forces in Iraq and Syria have faced surge in rocket and drone assaults by Iran proxies since Israel-Gaza war began

The funeral of Kataib Hezbollah members in Najaf, central Iraq. Kataib Hezbollah fighters were killed in the US air strikes in response to attacks on US forces. AP
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Iraqi security forces have prevented several attacks against military bases hosting US troops amid a surge of attacks by Iran-backed Shiite militias, the country’s Interior Ministry has said.

The targets were Ain Al Asad in western Iraq, a military base near Baghdad International Airport, and Harir Airport in the northern city of Erbil, as well as bases inside Syria.

US forces in Iraq and Syria have faced almost daily rocket and drone attacks by militia groups in retaliation for Washington's support of Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, in which more than 15,000 people have been killed.

It follows a Hamas attack in which around 1,200 people were killed and 240 abducted in cross-border raids on October 7.

Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al Sudani's government has been under pressure from Washington and its allies to rein in the militias and protect US forces and foreign diplomatic missions.

“The government is committed to protect the diplomatic missions and [to prevent] attacks against the US troops inside Iraq,” Interior Minister Lt Gen Abdul Amir Al Shammari told Al Arabiya Al Hadath news channel in an interview on Saturday.

“We were able to prevent several of these attacks and to seize a number of the rocket launchers,” Mr Al Shammari said, without giving further details.

Iraqi security forces have deployed forces to the areas from which the rockets are fired, he added.

“Our stance is firm, we will not allow the undermining of security or stability in Baghdad and other provinces. The security forces protect the citizens and vital facilities,” said Mr Al Shammari.

The US had only conducted retaliatory air strikes against militia sites in Syria since the Israel-Gaza war began.

But last week, they launched air strikes inside Iraq for the first time.

On Monday, US forces were attacked at Ain Al Asad airbase west of Baghdad and a US military AC-130 plane responded a few hours later, killing one Iran-backed militant linked to Kataib Hezbollah in Iraq.

The following day, the US struck the operations centre of the same group in Jurf Al Sakhar, south of Baghdad, killing eight militants and wounding five.

The militias have vowed to revenge but said they are committed to the four-day truce between Israel and Hamas which began on Friday.

Previously there had been a lull in attacks on US forces in Iraq since Mr Al Sudani took office last October.

Mr Al Sudani was nominated by the Co-ordination Framework, the largest political group in the Iraqi parliament which comprises powerful Iran-backed militias and political parties.

He has condemned the attacks and ordered Iraq's security forces to tackle rogue militias linked to Iran.

Kataib Hezbollah and other factions are part of the Popular Mobilisation Forces, an umbrella grouping of paramilitary groups consisting primarily of powerful Iran-backed militias.

Ostensibly, the government supervises the body, but in reality official security forces – such as the army and police – have limited control over them.

Updated: November 26, 2023, 1:09 PM