Iran-Backed Militias In Iraq, Lebanon, And Yemen Condemn U.S. Strikes In Iraq And Syria, Accuse U.S. Of Escalating Conflict, Undermining Global Security, Reiterate Calls To Expel U.S. Forces From Iraq

On February 2, 2024, the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) reported that its forces had conducted airstrikes earlier that day against over 85 targets of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force and affiliated militias, including command and control operations centers, intelligence centers, rocket, missile, and unmanned aerial vehicle storage sites, and logistics and munition supply chain facilities.[1]

The strikes came after a January 28 drone attack that killed three American soldiers and injured about 34 more stationed at a U.S. base known as “Tower 22” in northeast Jordan near the Syrian and Iraqi borders. U.S. President Joe Biden blamed “radical Iran-backed militant groups operating in Syria and Iraq” for the attack and vowed to “hold all those responsible to account at a time and in a manner of our choosing.”[2]

Iran-backed militias in Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen condemned the U.S. strikes.[3] Following is a selection of some of the most recent reactions:

Sayyid Al-Shuhada’ Brigades Leader: Iraq Must Stop Kuwait And Jordan From Allowing U.S. To Use Their Territory To Launch Attacks, Push To End U.S. Presence In Iraq

In a February 2 statement, Abu Alaa Al-Walae, commander of Iraq’s Sayyid Al-Shuhada’ Brigades, praised the “heroes of the Iraqi resistance” for continuing to “humiliate the American occupation.” Praising the Kuwaiti and Jordanian people for supporting the Palestinian cause, Al-Walae urged them to prevent their governments from allowing their countries to be used as “launching pads for aggression against Iraq,” which he claimed has happened six times since the beginning of the ongoing Israel-Hamas war in October 2023. Insisting that the Iraqi resistance could have “responded to the sources of fire,” but refrained out of “good neighborliness” and respect for the Iraqi government, Al-Walae called on Iraq’s parliament to press the Foreign Minister to prevent Jordan, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia from allowing the U.S. to use their countries to strike inside Iraq. The militia head stressed the importance of continuing the negotiations to end the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq, calling it a “top priority” that “will not be replaced by any other incident.”[4]

Hizbullah Brigades: U.S. Sees Killing As First Option To Advance Its Interests

Iraq’s Hizbullah Brigades issued a statement on February 3 eulogizing those killed by “the tyrants of the era” on the Syria-Iraq border, while they were “guarding our country from America’s evils and from its creation, the Wahhabi takfiri [characterized by declaring Muslims to be apostates who may be killed] ISIS.” The militia asserted that the “American criminality which is rooted in the psyches of American politicians” sees nothing wrong with “shedding blood and starving and killing nations” to advance its interests, either by occupying countries directly or dominating them indirectly, noting that the U.S. destroyed Japanese cities with atomic bombs and “continues to perpetrate and back these crimes in steadfast Gaza.” Hizbullah Brigades added: “The first solution in American thinking is to kill, and the history of its establishment testifies to these actions.”[5]

Asa’ib Ahl Al-Haq Spokesman: U.S. Strikes Will Not Dissuade Iraqi Resistance From Supporting Palestine, Expelling U.S. Forces

Jawad Al-Talibawi, spokesman of Iraq’s Asa’ib Ahl Al-Haq militia wrote on February 3 that the “American acts of aggression” against headquarters of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) are a “dangerous violation of international and human norms and conventions” and demonstrate the “evil aims” of the U.S. in the country. Al-Talibawi declared that the U.S. strikes were intended to “weaken the role of Iraq’s government and people in supporting our people in steadfast, brave Gaza,” insisting that the PMU and Iraqi resistance will continue to back the “brave Palestinian resistance” and “protect the sovereignty of Iraq.” He declared: “Our resolute and sure response will be to complete what noble Iraqis strive for, to liberate their country from the presence of foreign combat forces.” The militia spokesman called on the Iraqi government to “take a stance fitting the gravity of the American aggressions.”[6]

Lebanese Hizbullah: U.S. Strikes Destabilize Region, Escalate Conflict, Strengthen Support For Resistance In Iraq And Syria

Lebanese Hizbullah issued a February 3 statement condemning the U.S. strikes as a “blatant violation of the sovereignty” of Iraq and Syria and against “all international and human laws,” asserting that they further destabilize the region and expose the “flimsy justifications” for the U.S. to continue its “occupation” of parts of both countries, against the wishes of their citizens. According to Hizbullah, the U.S. strikes in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen prove the U.S. is lying when it claims it does not wish to escalate the conflict in the region. The group expressed hope that the “criminal aggression” would bring the people of Iraq and Syria to “stick to the path of resistance, to liberate their countries from American occupation, and to continue to back and support the oppressed Gaza Strip, until the cessation of Zionist aggression and criminality.”[7]

Houthis: Strikes Violate International Law, Destabilize Region And World; U.S. Should Have Pressured Israel To End Gaza War

The Foreign Ministry of Yemen’s Ansar Allah Movement (the Houthis) issued a February 3 statement condemning the strikes as a “blatant violation of the United Nations Charter, international law, and all international norms and conventions.” According to the ministry, these strikes, along with American and British strikes in Yemen, prove the U.S. is lying when it claims it does not want to escalate or expand the conflict and that “America is the main threat to international security and peace.” The ministry warned the U.S. against continuing its “aggression against regional countries,” so as not to “undermine regional and global security and stability,” stressing its solidarity with the governments and people of Iraq and Syria.[8]

The Houthi Political Bureau issued a similar statement, calling the strikes “barbaric and brazen aggression, a violation of Iraqi and Syrian sovereignty, and a violation of international law.” Describing the strikes as part of “the U.S. backing of the Israeli enemy to continue its crimes against the Palestinian people in Gaza,” the politburo warned that such actions would “draw the region into a wider conflict” and threaten global security. The statement claimed that instead of “targeting regional nations and peoples,” the U.S. could have forced Israel to end the war and lift the siege on Gaza. In addition, it insisted that all countries have the right to respond to attack, and rejected the U.S. claim that its strikes were defensive.[9]

It is noteworthy that the Iraqi groups did not explicitly threaten retaliation, in keeping with the temporary pause to attacks on U.S. forces declared by the Hizbullah Brigades on January 30, following the attack on the U.S. base in Jordan but prior to the U.S. response.[10] [1] Twitter.com/CENTCOM, February 2, 2024.

[2] Whitehouse.gov, January 28, 2024.

[3] See MEMRI JTTM report: Iran-Backed Iraqi Militias Condemn U.S. Attack On Iraq’s Sovereignty, Vow Harsh Retaliation, Call For Attacks Against U.S. And Jordanian Interests In Baghdad; Islamic Resistance In Iraq Resumes Attacks On U.S. Bases In Syria And Iraq, February 3, 2024.

[4] Twitter, February 2, 2024

[5] Kataibhezbollah website, February 3, 2024.

[6] Telegram, February 3, 2024.

[7] Alahednews, February 3, 2024

[8] Ansarollah website, February 3, 2024

[9] Ansarollah website, February 3, 2024

[10] See MEMRI JTTM reports: Iran-Backed Hizbullah Brigades In Iraq Announce Suspension Of All Operations Against U.S. Forces, Denies Iran’s Involvement In Previous Attacks, Says Teheran Often Advised Against Escalation, January 30, 2024; and After Using The Fighting In Gaza To Justify Attacks On U.S. Forces In Iraq And Syria, Iran And Its Proxies Temporarily Suspend Operations Due To Fear Of Large-Scale U.S. Response, January 31, 2024.

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