(Via The Daily Wire)
A 100,000-member force with close ties to Iran says that now that they have helped U.S.-led coalition troops fight and defeat ISIS, they may have a new target: American troops.
The Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), aka Hashd al-Shaabi, fought on both sides in Iraq but now they want Americans out of the country. Saif Ali, a member of the PMF’s Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba paramilitary, told Fox News, “America should only be here for embassy, any military presence and we will target them. I fought the Americans after 2003, and the British in southern Iraq, and I am happy about that. I don’t hate the American people, only hate the U.S. military, and I have killed many of them.”
Fox News reports, “Ali is one of thousands of PMF members who also took advantage of Iran-supplied weapons and ammunition to take the lives of hundreds of U.S. troops during the insurgency that followed the invasion of Iraq.”
The PMF, a Shiite-created entity, originally was comprised of 40 different militia groups. After they fought against ISIS, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi made them part of the Baghdad government’s security forces in November 2016.
In July 2017, Sayyid al-Shuhada, a member of the Hashd al-Shaabi forces, said a “large number” of troops were killed and wounded in U.S. airstrikes in Anbar province near the Iraq-Syria border. The group released a statement saying, “We will not be silent in the face of this incident.” The Baghdad-based spokesman of the U.S.-led coalition, Army Col. Ryan Dillon, dismissed the allegation.
Mohand al-Eqqaby, the PMF spokesman, said, “Our stand is clear. America was not there at the beginning of this ISIS crisis when we needed them most. We are strong now, and as long as we are fighting, Iraq does not need Americans on our land.”
In addition, the PMF may win seats in Iraq’s parliament, and there is genuine concern that their primary loyalty would be to Iran. Many of their members have joined Syria’s army and Lebanon’s Hezbollah forces which is troubling to some U.S. officials.
In November, CIA chief Mike Pompeo contacted Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassam Soleimani, warning him that troops loyal to Iran might attack American forces. Pompeo stated that the U.S. would hold Iran accountable for “any attacks on American interests.”
James Phillips, senior research fellow for Middle Eastern affairs at the Heritage Foundation, said, “Now that ISIS is not much of a threat, the PMF is likely to plan attacks against U.S. personnel in Iraq that would be carried out as soon as Tehran gives the orders. This is a major concern, given that tensions between Iran and the U.S. are likely to grow in the future.”