BAGHDAD (Dispatches) -- The Iraqi government condemned the United States on Monday for conducting air raids on resistance groups in Iraq and Syria that killed four anti-terror fighters.
Footage posted online showed the moment U.S. warplanes struck targets in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. army said the strikes late on Sunday targeted arms depots and operational facilities at two locations in Iraq and one in Syria.
“The United States took necessary, appropriate and deliberate action designed to limit the risk of escalation - but also to send a clear and unambiguous deterrent message,” John Kirby, spokesman for the Pentagon, said in a statement.
He claimed that one of the locations the U.S. targeted on Sunday included a facility that was used to launch and recover the drones.
But the Popular Mobilization Forces, a coalition of Iraqi anti-terror groups better known as Hashd al-Sha’abi, denied U.S. claims it targeted an arms depot and said the attack took place at 2am on Monday.
Hashd al-Sha’abi confirmed four fighters from the Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada faction had been killed by the strike and vowed to “retaliate and take revenge”.
The Iraqi government condemned the airstrikes and described them as an “unacceptable” violation of its sovereignty.
“We condemn the U.S. air attack that targeted a site last night on the Iraqi-Syrian border, which represents a blatant and unacceptable violation of Iraqi sovereignty and Iraqi national security,” said a statement from Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi’s office.
The statement said the government will “study all legal options” to prevent such action being repeated.
The Iraqi cabinet, headed by al-Kadhemi, held an emergency security meeting following the U.S. airstrikes.
“We condemn the U.S. air attack that targeted a site last night on the Iraqi-Syrian border, which represents a blatant and unacceptable violation of Iraqi sovereignty and Iraqi national security in accordance with all international conventions,” an Iraqi spokesperson from the armed forces said in a statement.
“We call for calm and to avoid escalation in all its forms, stressing that Iraq will carry out the necessary investigations, procedures and contacts at various levels to prevent such violations.”
The PMF also described the attack as a violation of Iraqi sovereignty.
The PMU in composed of about 40 factions of volunteer counter-terrorism forces, including mostly Shia Muslims besides Sunni Muslims, Christians, and Kurds. The organization had a significant role in defeating the Daesh terrorist group in Iraq.
A senior member of Iraq’s A-Nujaba Movement, which is part of the PMU, said in a Twitter post that Washington would pay for its folly in attacking Iraq’s popular forces.
Ali al-Asadi said the Monday U.S. airstrike was a desperate reaction to the latest manifestation of power by the PMU through a huge military parade, which was held to mark the anniversary of the PMU’s formation.
“This attack is another reason, which proves that the occupier does not care about stability of this country.... We tell the occupier: you will pay for your despicable measure and will suffer the consequences of your folly,” Asadi said.
In a statement, Lebanon’s Hezbollah said the air raid by American warplanes was blatant violation of sovereignty of both Iraq and Syria, which is aimed at weakening these countries’ power to fight terrorism on their soils.
Ilhan Omar, a U.S. congresswoman who represents Minnesota’s 5th congressional district, took to Twitter on Monday, condemning the American act of aggression against Iraqi popular forces.
“This constant cycle of violence and retribution is a failed policy and will not make any of us safer,” she said.
Anti-American sentiments have been running high in Iraq since the U.S. assassinated Iran’s anti-terror commander General Qassem Soleimani, and the deputy head of Iraq’s PMU, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, in Baghdad on January 3, 2020.
Just two days later, Iraqi lawmakers unanimously passed a bill mandating the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Iraq.
Iraqi resistance groups have pledged to take up arms against U.S. forces if Washington fails to comply with the parliamentary order.
The airstrikes came as U.S. President Joe Biden planned to meet the occupying regime of Israel’s outgoing president Reuven Rivlin in Washington on Monday.
The Syrian government-backed SANA news agency also said one child and three other people were wounded by U.S. airstrikes.
Following the U.S. airstrike, an Iraqi power station in the holy city
of Samarra was struck by Katyusha rockets reportedly fired by Daesh terrorists.
Iraq’s Ministry of Electricity announced on its Facebook page that the country’s Salah al-Din Power Station in the city had been targeted by rockets, causing severe damage to parts of the generating unit.
The Daesh terror group claimed responsibility for the attack.
Following the attack in Samarra, several Iraqi power towers along the electricity transfer line from the eastern Diyala province to east Baghdad were also damaged by explosions that resulted in shutting electric power on their path.
The attack was carried out near the Khan Bani Sa’ad area of the Baqubah district in the southwestern part of the Diyala province.
The targeted power station had been inaugurated two weeks ago by Prime Minister Kadhimi during a visit to the Salahuddin province.