BAGHDAD (Dispatches) – Chanting “Death to America” and “Death to Israel”, government officials and members of the Popular Mobilization Units gathered in Baghdad on Tuesday for the funeral of four anti-terror fighters martyred in U.S. airstrikes.
The Pentagon on Sunday said it struck three sites around the Iraq-Syria border manned by Iraqi fighters. The sites, it said, were used by Kata’ib Hezbollah and Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada.
The symbolic funeral procession on Tuesday took place near the Iraqi capital’s so-called Green Zone, where high-profile government offices and diplomatic missions, including the U.S. embassy, are based.
A number of major roads were closed in Baghdad for the funeral, which was attended by members of the Iraqi government, including National Security Advisor Qassim al-Araji and former Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi.
Top leaders from the PMU were also present, including Hadi al-Amri and Abdul-Aziz al-Muhammadawi, commonly referred to as Abu Fadak.
Iraq’s Harakat al-Nujaba movement, which is part of the PMU or Hashd al-Sha’abi, called on all Iraqi institutions to throw their weight behind the resistance to restore the country’s sovereignty.
Nujaba Secretary General Sheikh Akram al-Ka’abi “invited all the military institutions to support the resistance in restoring the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and promised the evil occupiers that military resistance would have the final say on the battlefield and make Iraq proud.”
He said the U.S. targeting of the 14th Hashd al-Sha’abi Brigade “proved that the foolish U.S. government is following in the footsteps of the former ignorant administration.”
“The evil occupiers should know that martyrdom is our path and we have performed the ablution of martyrdom in our burial shrouds for the great battle,” Ka’abi said, stressing that the political strategy seeking the expulsion of U.S. occupation forces has failed.
“Until the complete liberation of Iraq from your evil (presence), we will not retreat, we will not give up and we will respond twofold to any attack,” he warned the Americans.
The Nujaba chief further thanked the officials in charge of Iraqi checkpoints for facilitating the passage of the resistance fighters.
He also criticized the mercenaries who slander about pro-resistance individuals and institutions, saying, “Their prosecution will be near and heavy, and sooner or later they will be tried for their great crimes and treachery.”
The Iraqi News Agency quoted a spokesman for the presidency as saying that “the escalation is condemned and represents a violation of Iraqi sovereignty and national security and undermines the existing national efforts to achieve and strengthen security and stability.”
“We condemn the U.S. air attack that targeted a site ... on the Iraqi-Syrian border, which represents a blatant and unacceptable violation of Iraqi sovereignty,” Prime Minister Kadhemi said.
Ahmaf al-Maksumi, commander of the 14th Hashd al-Sha’abi Brigade, said the U.S. targeted resistance fighters with a 1,250-kilogram bomb during the attack that involved several drones and a fighter jet.
He also called on the United Nations and human rights organizations to condemn the crime, which Washington has itself confessed to.
In early 2003, the U.S. invaded Iraq under the later debunked pretext that the regime of Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.
It withdrew soldiers from Iraq between 2007 and 2011, but redeployed them in 2014 along with other partners to allegedly counter the threat from the Daesh terrorist group.
On January 3, 2020, the U.S. assassinated Iran’s legendary anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani and his Iraqi trenchmate Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy head of Hashd al-Sha’abi, in a drone strike near Baghdad International Airport.
Two days later, the Iraqi parliament unanimously approved a bill, demanding the withdrawal of all foreign military forces led by the United States from the country.
Since then, however, Washington has been dragging its feet on the pullout and targeting anti-terror groups from time to time.