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Iraq should be ‘cleansed’ of US-led coalition forces, says PMF head

February 5, 2024 at 2:45 pm

Faleh al-Fayyad (C), the head of the of Iraq’s Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation) paramilitary forces, speaks during of the funeral of people killed the previous day in US strikes in western Iraq, in Baghdad on January 4, 2024. [AHMAD AL-RUBAYE / AFP]

The head of Iraq’s Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) said yesterday that the country needs to be “cleansed” of the foreign military presence. Faleh Al-Fayyad reiterated demands for the withdrawal of the US-led coalition forces in the country.

Speaking during a funeral procession for PMF members killed in recent US air strikes against Iraq, Al-Fayyad emphasised that the Iran-backed umbrella group “will not [allow] the blood of its sons be a cheap political commodity.”

Describing the attacks as “blatant aggression”, Al-Fayyad vowed that they “will not pass heedlessly.” The Iraqi resistance leader went on to say that the “blood of the Popular Mobilisation Front’s martyrs” represents “the dignity and honour of Iraq. The land of Iraq must be cleansed of foreign presence.”

The PMF is an integrated part of Iraq’s armed forces. The group said that 16 of its fighters were killed in Friday’s strikes, which also wounded 36 people.

The US has recently stepped up its attacks against PMF targets and others linked to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Iraq and neighbouring Syria. These actions coincide with escalated efforts by resistance factions to force the withdrawal of US forces from both countries. The development is part of the broader regional conflict, occurring alongside Israel’s US-backed genocidal campaign against the Palestinians in Gaza.

On Friday, US President Joe Biden said that the air strikes, which targeted 85 sites in Iraq and Syria, were the first in a series of actions by Washington in response to a deadly drone attack that killed three soldiers and injured scores more at a US base on the Jordan-Syria border. “Our response began today,” Biden said. “It will continue at times and places of our choosing.”

Yesterday, the Islamic Resistance in Iraq claimed responsibility for a drone attack on the US base in Al-Omar oilfield in Syria. The group insisted that it will “continue to destroy enemy strongholds” and claimed to be acting in support of “our people” in Gaza.

READ: 6 US-backed Kurdish fighters killed in drone attack on US base in Syria