A leader in one of the several groups identifying under the “Islamic Resistance in Iraq” brand declared on Sunday that any negotiation between Baghdad and Washington on the presence of U.S. troops there will prompt “more pressure on the occupiers.”
The statement, republished in the Iranian state newspaper PressTV after appearing in the New Arab publication, followed an announcement by President Joe Biden on Sunday that jihadists had killed three American servicepersons and injured dozens in a drone attack on the border between Syria and Jordan. Biden claimed the strikes occurred in Jordan, where the Pentagon has about 3,000 troops stationed; the Jordanian government insisted that the attack occurred on Syrian territory.
Biden vowed he “will hold all those responsible to account at a time and in a manner our choosing,” though his administration has largely allowed dozens of attacks on American troops in the region to continue since the October 7 massacre of over 1,200 Israelis by the Sunni jihadist terrorist organization Hamas.
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The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, the Lebanese Shiite terror group Hezbollah, Hamas, and allies such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Shiite Houthi terrorists of Yemen have all launched coordinated attacks on Israel, American assets, and Western allies in the aftermath of October 7 as a gesture of solidarity to Hamas’s call for the genocide of Jews in the region.
Biden’s announcement of Americans killed this weekend is the first such fatal incident for Americans in the region since October 7.
Biden generally blamed “Iran-backed” groups for the strikes. The Islamic Resistance in Iraq issued a statement on Sunday taking responsibility; if accurate, marking a significant geographical departure out of Iraq for most of its activities. They also published a video allegedly showing the strikes.
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According to Al Mayadeen, a press outlet affiliated with the Lebanese terror organization Hezbollah, the Islamic Resistance in Iraq “declared that it conducted a series of drone attacks on five enemy positions in the region. Among these, three were aimed at US occupation bases situated in Syria, specifically targeting al-Shadadi, al-Rukban, and al-Tanf.”
“The fourth strike was directed at a base near Erbil Airport in the Iraqi Kurdistan region,” Al Mayadeen detailed. “The fifth operation was executed on the ‘Zevelun’ naval facility in occupied Palestine [sic].”
A commander of Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, one of the groups under the “Islamic Resistance in Iraq” brand, suggested that the groups were preparing an escalation in attacks on Americans in comments published by PressTV on Sunday.
“Iraq’s negotiations with the Americans will never cause a decline in efforts by the Islamic resistance against the outsiders and they will even cause us to pile more pressure on the occupiers,” the anonymous “commander” reportedly said.
“Nujaba and other groups in Iraq, which operate under the umbrella organization of the Islamic Resistance in Iraq (IRI), have repeatedly said attacks on US positions in Iraq and Syria will continue until Israel ends its genocidal war on Gaza,” PressTV added.
Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba is one of a large number of militias active in Iraq with Iranian backing, and considered “perhaps the most aggressive anti-American Iran-backed militia in Iraq.” It gained notoriety in the jihadi world by releasing a nasheed, or jihadi war song, honoring Iranian terror mastermind Qasem Soleimani. Former President Donald Trump eliminated Soleimani from the battlefield with a targeted airstrike on January 3, 2020, while he was in Iraq coordinating attacks on U.S. forces with Iran’s allied militias there.
The “Islamic Resistance in Iraq” is considered to be made up mostly of those militias, though it appears to be intentionally unclear exactly which of the militias are involved in it or to what extent it is an established organization. The jihadists started using the term to refer to terrorist attacks against America and its allies in Iraq following the October 7 atrocities and has never defined itself or its members publicly.
Many of its members are believed to also be part of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), a coalition of majority Iran-backed, Shiite militias who became a formal arm of the Iraqi armed forces during the war to uproot the Islamic State “caliphate” in the country. The PMF took credit for fighting the Islamic State despite the Kurdish Peshmerga forces and U.S. troops doing most of the work. American military leaders praised the PMF for their “professional” work at the time.
Despite ample evidence that Iran, the world’s premier state sponsor of terrorism, funds PMF units and other militias and terrorist organizations throughout the Middle East, its foreign ministry officially denied any involvement in the attack that killed American troops.
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“Iran is not involved in the resistance groups’ decisions about how to support the Palestinian people or defend themselves and the people of their countries in the face of any aggression and occupation,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kan’ani said on Monday. “Iran monitors the developments in the region with readiness and vigilance and the responsibility for the consequences of provocative accusations against Iran rests with the perpetrators of such baseless claims.”
Kan’ani appeared to blame Washington for the deaths of the troops, claiming “the US’s insistence and continuous violation of the national sovereignty of Iraq and Syria and bombing attacks against the groups and people of Iraq, Syria and Yemen have intensified the instability in the region,” according to PressTV.
Iran’s terror proxies Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad – which the U.S. State Department estimated in 2020 receive $100 million annual from Tehran – openly celebrated the killing.
“The killing of three American soldiers is a message to the American administration that unless the killing of innocent people in Gaza stops, it must confront the entire Ummah,” Sami Abu Zuhri, a senior Hamas spokesperson, reportedly said, according to PressTV.
Palestinian Jihad declared the killing of Americans “a natural and legitimate response” to America’s presence in the Middle East.