Attacks on US in Iraq becoming dangerous cycle: Experts – News Vibe24

    Attacks on US in Iraq becoming dangerous cycle: Experts - Times of India
    AIN-AL-ASSAD AIRBASE: A truck that has been reduced to twisted metal is next to a destroyed mosque, following the latest pro-Iranian attack on US interests in Iraq, which experts warn is far from the latter.
    “The whole neighborhood was damaged, houses burned, windows broken,” said Hamza Abdulrazzaq, a resident with his head wrapped in a bandage.
    He was wounded by one of the rockets, which landed in a town near the huge Ain Al-Assad air base.
    “The government must protect us,” he added. “Why do we always have to pay the price?”
    There have been attacks in the past at the base in Iraq’s desert province of Anbar, which hosts US-led coalition troops against the Islamic State group.
    But this feature was larger than the previous ones.
    Iraqi General Hamad Namesi said a total of 24 rockets were fired on Tuesday from a flour truck.
    “The vehicle had all the necessary permits to cross the checkpoints,” he told reporters Thursday, speaking at the scene of the attacks.
    Fourteen of the missiles hit their target, causing minor injuries to two people at the base, according to the coalition.
    Iraq, a long arena for bitter rivalry between the United States and Iran, despite their shared hostility to IS, has seen increasing numbers of rocket and drone strikes on US targets in recent months.
    In recent days we have seen repeated attacks against US interests in the west, Iraqi Kurdistan in the north and the US embassy in Baghdad.
    Some have been claimed by previously unknown groups to demand the ouster of the “American occupier” or to avenge the deaths of comrades killed in US strikes.
    But observers accuse them of existing pro-Iranian factions operating under the umbrella of the Hashed Al-Shaabi paramilitary alliance created to fight IS.
    Commanders from Hashed, which is integrated into state forces and has become a major political figure, often praise the attacks – without ever claiming responsibility.
    Hast has vowed revenge for the deaths of his troops in US attacks in Iraq and Syria.
    Experts warn that even if neither side wants to escalate the conflict, the attacks have turned into dangerous violence.
    A senior military official has warned that Iraqi armed groups are “playing with fire”.
    “We can expect the cycle to continue,” said Marsin Alshamary, an Iraq specialist at the Brookings Institution, a think tank based in Washington.
    Pro-Iranian forces have carried out dozens of attacks against US interests in Iraq since the beginning of the year, mainly as a show of force.
    Washington Institute Iraqi researcher Hamdi Malik said recent attacks by Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and eastern Syria were one way to boost support.
    Pro-Iranian groups were hit hard in January last year by the US-led assassination of Iran’s respected commander, Qassem Soleimani, and his Iraqi lieutenant, Abu Mahdi al-Muhadi.
    “By not acting when more of their people are killed, (pro-Iran groups) risk losing their credibility and legitimacy in the eyes of their own bases,” Malik said.
    They are also wary that they are “losing respect in the eyes of other components of the ‘resistance axis’ in other countries in the region,” he said, referring to pro-Iranian forces in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.
    Washington, on the other hand, is “trying to limit the influence and power of these militias,” Alsamari said.
    The Iraqi government has repeatedly condemned the rocket and drone strikes, but has not been able to prosecute any of the perpetrators, Alsamari said.
    Such incidents have escalated in Iraq and Syria, even as the US and Iran hold sensitive talks aimed at reviving a 2015 agreement on Tehran’s nuclear activities, which the Trump administration destroyed in 2018.


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