BAGHDAD (Dispatches) -- Leader of the Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq resistance group Qais al-Khazali has pledged to avenge U.S. airstrikes that martyred at least five Iraqi anti-terror fighters near the Iraqi-Syrian borders earlier this week.
In a televised speech broadcasted by Iraq’s Al-Ahed satellite channel, Khazali said: “We are not seeking blood… however the American treacherous enemy is the one who started wasting lives and moved the battle to this level.”
He said, “The resistance operations have moved to a new stage, and retribution for the blood of our precious youth will only be compensated with the blood of its occupying soldiers.”
“If America continues to shed Iraqi blood, we will continue to respond, and we have full readiness and plans in a way that the enemy will not expect in terms of location and the quality of weapons.”
At least five Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq members were martyred in U.S. airstrikes on the Iraqi-Syrian border on Monday, drawing condemnation from the Iraqi government, army and the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU).
On Monday, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi strongly condemned the airstrikes, calling them a “flagrant violation” of Iraq’s sovereignty. He said the Iraqi government will “study all legal options” to prevent such action from happening again.
A political commentator and journalist said the U.S. airstrikes have sent out a clear message about the hostility of American occupation forces, and that Iraqi anti-terror fighters reserve the right to respond.
“What the Americans are doing is sending a clear message that they are hostile forces. It is giving the right to Iraqi resistance forces to fight back,” Elijah Magnier told Press TV.
The Brussels-based analyst said the attack proves that U.S. forces are combat forces in Iraq, contradicting what Prime Minister Kadhimi said previously about their advisory roles.
“It also shows Americans have a different agenda, which is not to leave the country. It reveals that they are committing crimes against Iraqi security forces, who are supposed to protect civilians, train forces and gather intelligence to combat Daesh in Iraq,” he said.
Magnier said the Baghdad government had not given U.S. forces the authorization to fly over the area, as it is commonly secured by Iraqi army troops and Hashd al-Sha’abi forces.
“Americans are indeed weakening the Iraqi prime minister because they feel as if they bear no accountability to answer to anyone in Iraq nor the international community.
Magnier stressed that even though the Iraqi parliament has approved a legislation on withdrawal of U.S. forces, Washington is exerting pressure on Iraqi authorities through threats of sanctions, and European countries have stated they would pull out their forces from the Arab country once American occupation forces leave.
“This is a kind of blackmail… They (U.S. troops) will stay in the Middle East and they are not going to leave, because they want to make sure that Russia and China would not fill up such a vacuum,” he said.
On Tuesday, thousands of people gathered in Al-Jadriya neighborhood of Baghdad to participate in a funeral for those martyred in U.S. air raids against Iraqi resistance forces on the border between Iraq and Syria.
The participants chanted “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” to condemn the fatal U.S. attacks on Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters. They also called on Iraqi resistance groups to respond “decisively” to the U.S. aggression.