Iraqi resistance forces say they stand fully ready to confront any possible act of aggression by the US military, which is widely reported to be gearing up for operations against the positions of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) — an elite pro-government anti-terror force.
Mohammed Muhyee, spokesman for the Kata’ib Hezbollah (Hezbollah Brigades), which is a major PMU faction, warned on Monday that the latest activities by the American occupation forces in Iraq were “not accidental,” the Arabic-language Almaalomah news agency reported.
He said Washington considered Kata’ib Hezbollah the main obstacle to its schemes in Iraq, and therefore sought to undermine the group.
Resistance groups, especially Hezbollah Brigades, are powerful enough to face up to US troops, he added.
Muhyee also stressed that Kata’ib Hezbollah was well aware of the plots the US was hatching in Iraq and abroad to stage attacks on resistance groups.
On Thursday, Kata’ib Hezbollah revealed that the US military was preparing to carry out massive aerial operations — backed by ground troops – against bases of the force, which is currently busy helping Baghdad in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
A day later, The New York Times reported that the Pentagon had ordered planners at the US military’s Central Command and in Iraq to draw up a strategy to dismantle Kata’ib Hezbollah.
Washington has blamed Kata’ib Hezbollah for about a dozen rocket attacks against American troops based in Iraq over the past few months.
The group has denied any role in such raids, saying if Kata’ib Hezbollah decided to launch attacks, it had no fear of making the news public.
The US has, in recent weeks, carried out a string of deadly airstrikes on Iraqi military bases, including those held by resistance fighters.
Baghdad has denounced the attacks as violation of its sovereignty and aggression against its official armed forces.
‘US deploys Patriot missiles to Iraq bases’
Earlier on Monday, US and Iraqi military sources told AFP that at least four US Patriot missile systems would be assembled at bases hosting American forces across Iraq.
One of the batteries was deployed to the Ain al-Asad base last week and was being assembled. The base was targeted by Iran in January in retaliation for the assassination of top Iranian anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani.
Another Patriot system was deployed to a base in Erbil, the capital of the semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan region.
The US is also planning to send two more batteries to Iraq, although the systems are still in Kuwait awaiting deployment.
The deployment of Patriot missile systems comes in defiance of an Iraqi parliament vote in January that called for an end to the presence of all foreign troops, including some 5,200 American forces.
Earlier this month, US-led coalition forces withdrew from three bases in Iraq in line with Washington’s plans to consolidate its troops in other locations in the Arab country.
‘Imminent US attacks’
Separately, the Al Hadath news agency has raised the possibility of a large-scale military operation by American forces against pro-government forces in Iraq.
It also reported that the spokesman for US forces in Iraq had advised people to stay away from US military bases as well as facilities run by Iraqi resistance groups.
Kuwaiti newspaper al-Qabas reported that the number of American Apache helicopters and drones flying over Iraq was unprecedented since the US-led invasion of the Arab country in 2003.
Meanwhile, Iraq’s caretaker Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi has warned against any “offensive military action without the approval of the Iraqi government.”
The statement from Abdul-Mahdi’s office further raised objections to “unlicensed planes” flying in various parts of Iraq.