As this publication reported last night, United States Central Command confirmed that a C-130 gunship carried out retaliatory strikes against Iran-linked militants in Iraq.
By 2200 EST on November 22nd, 2023, Iraqi militia outlet Sabereen confirmed that five PMU members were killed in the U.S. airstrike. By 0400 EST, that number had risen to eight killed as the three previously wounded members did not survive. The members were confirmed killed near Jurf al-Sakhar. The Hezbollah Brigades also announced that eight of their fighters had been killed in the strike.
Nevertheless, Since 0700 EST, Iraqi government officials (non-military) have been flooding social and local media with anti-U.S. statement and demonstrations have broken out in Baghdad.
The Badr Organization cited Hadi al-Ameri and reiterated calls for expulsion of all U.S. troops from Iraq. Pro-militia outlets called for the mass mobilization and rocket strikes against all U.S. bases in Iraq. These outlets also called for open confrontation against the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.
By 0545 EST, the Hezbollah Brigades made this announcement:
”In the name of God, the most gracious, the most merciful
(And do not say of those who are killed in the cause of God that they are dead; rather, they are alive, but you do not perceive it.)
We are on the cusp of the fourth anniversary of the American crime of targeting the Popular Mobilization Forces fighters in Al-Qaim. The American occupation forces are still on their dirty path, targeting once again the headquarters of the Mobilization Forces and its mujahideen in the Jurf al-Nasr sector, north of Babylon.
The inability of their military machine to protect their bases from the attacks of the Islamic Resistance increased the enemy’s confusion and committed crimes against those who protected Iraq, secured its regions, and liberated its land from the evil of their own creation, ISIS.
The crime of the American bombing of the PMF headquarters at dawn today, in which 8 martyrs rose, has not passed and will not go unpunished, which requires expanding the scope of targets if the enemy continues its criminal approach, (to establish truth and invalidate falsehood, even if the criminals hate it).
While we offer our condolences to the families of the martyrs and their loved ones, we ask God Almighty to join them in the caravan of light with those whom God has bestowed His blessings on, including the prophets, the truthful, the martyrs, and the righteous, and to grant them good companions, and to grant the wounded a speedy recovery.“
By 0600 EST, Iraqi officials began adding their thoughts. Asaib Ahl al-Haq leader Al-Khazali called for the expulsion of U.S. troops. Iraqi First Deputy Speaker of Parliament Mandalawi condemned the airstrike, claiming it violated Iraqi sovereignty and targeted security services of the state.
It is important to remember that Kata’ib Hezbollah or the Hezbollah Brigades—is a radical Iraqi Shiite paramilitary group which is part of the Popular Mobilization Forces, staffing the 45th, 46th, and 47th Brigades. It falls under the umbrella of Iraqi security forces, although can operate independently of the Iraqi government. In this scenario, the Hezbollah Brigades most likely operated against US forces, under the direction of Iran, then use their status as Iraqi paramilitaries to shield themselves from political retaliation. U.S. troops are in Iraq at the request of the Iraqi government, albeit the Iraqi Parliament has not been able to secure a ruling coalition since 2021. The Iraqi government is racked by pro-Iranian groups that resent the United States, especially considering the 2003-2011 war.