The pro-Iranian militia group Ashab al-Kahf has threatened to begin attacks against the United States Embassy in Baghdad, as well as other American military installations across Iraq, after announcing that “peaceful and diplomatic solutions have failed.”
In a statement, the group said that “The American evil embassy is the source of terrorism in the region, and the black room in which all terrorist operations in our regions are planned and managed. Therefore, it must be closed in addition to expelling Americans from military bases.”
“Peaceful and diplomatic solutions have failed, and we are only left with a military solution. When night falls, we guide the roads with the barrels of our rifles, and your bases will be under the crosshairs of the resistance’s fire. The American embassy and all of America do not mean the least to us. We tell the Americans that our rifles are tired of retaining their bullets,” the statement added.
In Iraq, I met with Prime Minister @MohamedShia to underscore that we must prevent the conflict from spreading. I urged him to hold accountable those responsible for attacks on U.S. personnel in Iraq and discussed our work to deliver humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza. pic.twitter.com/HthTWR1m5o
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) November 5, 2023
The threats came amid an unannounced visit by United States Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to Iraq on Sunday, where he met with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani in Baghdad to discuss preventing regional spill over from the war between Hamas and Israel, as well as the country’s security situation as attacks by Iran-backed proxy forces against American forces continue to mount. While speaking to reporters after the visit, Blinken said that he and Sudani have “a shared purpose and commitment in trying to make sure that these attacks don’t happen,” adding that Sudani is “working with his own security forces and others to take necessary action” to prevent further attacks.
Blinken’s visit also prompted large protests in Baghdad’s Green Zone by supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr, a prominent Shia cleric who has long opposed American presence in the country. Once a close partner of Tehran, al-Sadr has lead a movement opposed to any foreign influence in Iraq, both Iranian and American. His standpoint and massive following has lead to deepening rifts in Iraqi Shia politics that has threatened Iranian influence.
Security measures at all entrances of the Green Zone in Baghdad have been intensified as more and more people are joining the current demonstrations to protest US Secretary of State’s visit to the Iraqi capital. pic.twitter.com/uhKgqumeMa
— Sardar Sattar (@SardarSattar) November 5, 2023
Likewise, Iran-backed Kataib Hezbollah, who we all know from the 2020 American Embassy siege, said that Blinken’s visit would be met with “unprecedented escalation.” In a statement, the group said that “After the military escalation of the Islamic resistance in Irag this week, it will work to shut down American interests in Iraq, and disable them in the region, and this is what we will reach in the coming weeks if the aggression continues.”
“The closing of the American embassy, and the banning of American citizens from entering the country we will achieve it in our own (non-peaceful) way, because dealing peacefully with the murderers is cowardice,” the statement added.
#Iran and Axis of Resistance
The Islamic Resistance in Iraq—an umbrella group of Iraqi militias—claimed responsibility for one attack targeting US forces in #Syria on Nov 5. https://t.co/IqFujdn6R2 https://t.co/zsbs3lC2wC pic.twitter.com/DRB5eEnt87
— Institute for the Study of War (@TheStudyofWar) November 6, 2023
Since October 17, Iran-backed Shia militia forces have claimed responsibility for over 30 rocket and drone attacks against American airbases and garrisons in Iraq and Syria, which the Pentagon says has resulted in over two dozen casualties (although they were described as light). Ain al-Asad Airbase in Anbar, which was the target of an Iranian missile barrage following the killing of IRGC General Qasim Soleimani, has been targeted the most out of all the other installations in the region.
The United States, while continuously warning Iran and its proxies to not escalate the situation, has only responded to the attacks by carrying out airstrikes against “two facilities in eastern Syria used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and affiliated groups” on October 26.
At the time, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said that “The United States does not seek conflict and has no intention nor desire to engage in further hostilities, but these Iranian-backed attacks against U.S. forces are unacceptable and must stop. Iran wants to hide its hand and deny its role in these attacks against our forces. We will not let them. If attacks by Iran’s proxies against U.S. forces continue, we will not hesitate to take further necessary measures to protect our people.”