Iran-backed militias under the umbrella of the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) have threatened to avenge the US airstrikes yesterday on their facilities. Five militants were killed in the strikes.
The PMF said that the strikes resulted in the "martyrdom" of a group of "heroic" fighters. "We will remain the shield defending our beloved nation, and we are fully ready… to respond and take revenge."
The strikes targeted two facilities in Syria and one in Iraq, which were reportedly being used by the militias, including Kataib Hezbollah and Kataib Sayyid Al-Shuhada.
According to a statement from the US Defence Department, "The targets were selected because these facilities are utilised by Iran-backed militias that are engaged in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) attacks against US personnel and facilities in Iraq." The strikes, it added, "prove" President Joe Biden's commitment to protect US personnel.
Washington's strikes on the PMF targets came after months of tension with Baghdad due to militia attacks on US military bases and the US Embassy in the capital's Green Zone. The Iraqi government has come under significant pressure to force the militias to end their attacks and bring them under control. So far, it has failed to do this, as was seen in the militias' storming of Baghdad and the Green Zone earlier this month after a PMF leader was arrested.
Although officially part of the Iraqi armed forces, the PMF largely operates independently and with significant control and backing from Iran and its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
According to recent reports, Tehran has also been training some of those militias in forms of advanced warfare such as the operation of UAVs and surveillance.