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Iraq: meeting between leaders and paramilitary force on a drone attack


Iraq: meeting between leaders and paramilitary force on a drone attack

Baghdad (AFP)

The Iraqi president and prime minister met on Monday with leaders of a powerful paramilitary force, who accused Israel of being behind a drone attack that killed one of its fighters, raising fears of escalation.

Tension also increased in the region after a drone attack Sunday on the stronghold of Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shiite movement in Beirut, attributed to Israel by Lebanon. To this attack are added strikes claimed by the Jewish state in Syria.

The Iraqi army announced earlier today the opening of an investigation into a "strike" on Sunday killing a Hachd al-Shaabi fighter in western Iraq near the Syrian border.

Iraqi President Barham Saleh discussed the unstable situation with the Prime Minister, the Speaker of Parliament and senior Hachd al-Shaabi paramilitary forces, including its leader, Faleh al-Fayyadh.

Another fighter was seriously wounded in the attack, according to Hashd al-Shaabi, who quickly accused Israel of being behind this attack "occurred with an air cover of American planes".

- "Series of attacks" -

"As part of a series of Zionist attacks in Iraq, the evil Israeli crows returned (Sunday) to target Hashd al-Shaabi," said a statement Sunday that paramilitary force.

The attack came a month after a series of unclaimed explosions on paramilitary bases, first attributed to the United States by one of its leaders, who was later disavowed by his leader. The Pentagon has denied any involvement in these explosions.

On Monday evening, Hashd al-Shaabi said in a statement he spotted a drone flying over one of its bases in the province of Nineveh (north). Anti-aircraft weapons were activated and the drone left the area, according to the document.

"These attacks are blatant acts of hostility targeting Iraq," the presidency said in a statement, adding that "the sovereignty of Iraq (...) was a red line."

The presidency also said that the government would do everything to "find the aggressors", without threatening a military response.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmad Sahhaf told AFP that "if it was proven that a foreign entity was involved ... the first step would be to take the matter to the Security Council. the UN. "

- "Emergency meeting" -

"Hundreds of people attended the funeral procession (Monday) morning of Kazem Mohsen (...) killed by an Israeli drone attack on al-Qa'im," the paramilitary force said in a statement.

Deputy Ahmad al-Assadi, also a spokesman for "Fatah" - Hashd al-Shaabi's block in parliament - attended the funeral of the fighter near Baghdad.

"We will work to hold an urgent meeting in Parliament in the coming days," he said in a video published by Hashd al-Shaabi.

Fatah had previously labeled the attack a "declaration of war on Iraq".

Hashd al-Shaabi helped Iraqi government forces defeat the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group in 2017.

Its forces operate officially within the Iraqi army but the United States and Israel fear that some of its units are an extension of their common enemy: Iran.

The Hachd al-Shaabi alliance is made up of pro-Iranian armed groups opposed to the presence of US forces deployed in Iraq as part of the US-led international coalition, which has also contributed to the fight against terrorism. IE.

Recent incidents at Hachd al-Shaabi bases have raised fears of a possible indirect confrontation between Iran, the United States and Israel on Iraqi soil.

According to an Iraqi government source, the attacks on Hashd al-Shaabi put Iraq in an even more difficult situation, as the country is already torn between its American ally and its Iranian neighbor.

"If we remain calm, we are perceived as weak, and if we raise our voices, some Hashd elements will interpret this as a green light to start a war," the source said.

© 2019 AFP

Source: france24

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