Iraqi forces’ daring raid on Katai’b Hezbollah reflects Kadhimi’s determination |


BAGHDAD – In a daring operation reflecting Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s determination to restrict the activities of armed militias, Iraqi security forces arrested more than a dozen pro-Iran fighters overnight, during their First raid on groups accused of anti-US rocket attacks, Iraqi officials said on Friday morning.

Government sources told the DPA news agency that the operation “aims to strengthen security, track down armed groups that fuel violence and occasionally strike government buildings.”

Elite fighters from the Iraqi Counterterrorism Service (CTS) raided a headquarters in southern Baghdad used by Katai’b Hezbollah, a pro-Iranian faction also identified as Brigade 45 of the Hached al-Chaabi military force.

“Based on intelligence information, a CTS unit raided a base used by Brigade 45, seizing three rocket launchers and arresting 13 fighters,” one of the officials said.

The military commander of the Popular Mobilization Forces (FMP) Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who was killed last January in a US drone strike. (APD)

Official sources told the DPA that during the raid on the Katai’b Hezbollah headquarters south of Baghdad, STC forces “arrested around 50 party members and seized a number of Katyusha missile launchers.

Since October, nearly three dozen attacks have targeted US interests in Iraq, including a series of military bases, the US embassy in Baghdad and US oil companies. Iraqi, American and British soldiers were killed in the attacks.

The United States blamed Katai’b Hezbollah for the attacks and retaliated twice, both after rockets killed US servicemen stationed at Iraqi bases.

Washington has pressured Baghdad to take tougher action on the group, and Thursday’s night-time raid is the first of its kind.

Kataeb Hezbollah (KH) is a radical faction within the Hached al-Chaabi, a network of armed groups integrated into the Iraqi security forces.

The radical KH faction was founded by Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy head of the Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary network, who was killed alongside Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in a US drone strike in Baghdad on January 3. .

In commemoration of the murders, Katai’b Hezbollah erected a false gallows of US President Donald Trump at the entrances to the vast eastern district of Sadr City last February. He also said the deaths “would not go unpunished”.

Katai’b Hezbollah militiamen are known to be close to Iran and fiercely opposed to the US presence in the region.

The Iraqi Counterterrorism Service was established by the US occupation forces following the 2003 invasion that overthrew former President Saddam Hussein and is widely regarded as a force friendly to Washington. But he is seen as a disciplined strike force committed to implementing Kadhimi’s agenda.

A file photo shows members of the Iraqi Counterterrorism Service taking up a position during a deployment to Baghdad.  (AFP)
A file photo shows members of the Iraqi Counterterrorism Service taking up a position during a deployment to Baghdad. (AFP)

STC commander Abdulwahab al-Saadi was appointed by the prime minister last month.

Under Kadhimi, Iraq and the United States launched a strategic dialogue earlier this month to reset bilateral ties. Threats from local Iranian-backed militias against US interests in Iraq were part of the dialogue held in Baghdad.

The start of the talks coincided with a significant increase in rocket attacks, with six incidents targeting US facilities in two weeks.

Kadhimi is committed to fighting armed militias that threaten security and undermine the prerogatives of the Iraqi state. He also said threats to his life would not deter him from pursuing his goals.


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