An Iraqi soldier wears a protective face mask and gloves as he stands guard during the hand over of Qayyarah Airfield from US-led coalition to Iraqi Forces, in Mosul, Iraq, March 26, 2020. (Reuters)

March 28, 2020

The US Department of Defense has ordered its military commanders in Iraq to prepare for potential operations to destroy the pro-Iranian Kataib Hezbollah militia group, according to sources who spoke to the New York Times.

According to the report, several unnamed officials said top US commander in Iraq Lt. Gen. Robert P. White wrote a memo in which he advised the Pentagon against such plans, saying that it would divert resources from fighting ISIS and risk jeopardizing current deals with the Iraqi government that allow US troops to operate in the country.

The report about the supposed Pentagon orders comes more than a week after the US-led coalition said it would redeploy hundreds of troops in Iraq to new bases in the country or to bases in different countries, according to coalition and US officials, with one calling it a “historic” move.

Kataib Hezbollah is a hardline pro-Iran faction within the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) militias. In January, the Iraqi parliament voted to oust all foreign forces from the country after a US drone strike in Baghdad killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and the PMU militia’s deputy chief, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

Since then, there has been an escalation in tensions between the US and pro-Iranian militias in the region, especially in Iraq.

Earlier this month, at least 18 Katyusha rockets were fired at a military camp Taji in Iraq, killing one 26-year-old British soldier and two American personnel. The Pentagon blamed Kataib Hezbollah for the attack.

Al Arabiya

About Track Persia

Track PersiaTrack Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.