US seeks to prolong military presence in Iraq through raids on PMU bases: Lawmaker
Iran Press TV
Tuesday, 30 June 2020 2:23 PM
An Iraqi legislator and leader of the State of Law Coalition has denounced the recent raid on a headquarters of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), better known by the Arabic word Hashd al-Sha'abi, in southern Baghdad, saying the United States is seeking to prolong its military presence in the country through such bids.
"The US is looking for an excuse to extend the deployment of its military forces in Iraq by means of provocative acts against Hashd al-Sha'abi fighters and assaults on their headquarters," Mohammed al-Sahyoud said in an exclusive interview with Arabic-language al-Maalomah news agency on Tuesday.
He added, "We must stand committed to the PMU and the resistance front as two main and matchless options in order to strengthen state bodies and counter the challenges being posed by the United States against the political process in Iraq."
"Our commitment to the PMU and Islamic resistance groups will frustrate US schemes and those of its agents, who are trying to overthrow the political process in the country," Sahyoud pointed out.
In the unprecedented raid on June 25 against the headquarters of Kata'ib Hezbollah, a PMU faction, Iraqi forces arrested a dozen of its members for allegedly planning a rocket attack on Baghdad's Green Zone, where the US and other embassies as well as state buildings are located.
Baghdad later dropped all the charges against the detained PMU forces and released them on Monday.
Washington claims Kata'ib Hezbollah is behind the rocket attacks against its bases and missions in Iraq over the past months, but the group has never claimed responsibility for such raids.
PMU leaders have slammed the arrests as a move dictated by the US occupiers.
Qais al-Khazali, leader of Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, also part of the PMU, said in a statement on Friday that there are foreign attempts in Iraq to undermine the anti-terror group, advising Iraqi officials not to engage in a confrontation with Hashd al-Sha'abi as the group represents people from all strata of the Iraqi society.
Separately, a senior official with Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba called upon Iraqi authorities not to play into the hands of US military forces and help implementation of their plots, warning against further raids on PMU fighters.
Hashd al-Sha'abi – an official Iraqi force with similar rights as those of the army – is a thorn in the side of the United States which is widely believed to be managing an array of militant groups, including Daesh, to advance its Israel-centric agenda in the region.
Hashd al-Sha'abi fighters have played a major role in the liberation of areas held by Daesh terrorists ever since the Takfiri group launched an offensive in the country, overrunning vast swathes in lightning attacks.
On March 27, the New York Times newspaper had reported that the Pentagon had ordered a secret directive, which called on US military commanders to prepare a campaign against Kata'ib Hezbollah, which is part of Hashd al-Sha'abi.
The report came a few months after Iraqi lawmakers unanimously approved a bill on January 5, demanding the withdrawal of all foreign troops following the US assassination of Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, along with Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of Iraq's PMU, and their companions.
Baghdad and Washington are currently in talks over the withdrawal of American troops. Iraqi resistance groups have vowed to take up arms against US forces if Washington fails to comply with the parliamentary order.
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