Pentagon Prepares to Destroy Iranian-backed Militia Groups in Iraq

A member of the PMU militias holds a flag of Kataib Hezbollah militia group during a protest to condemn air strikes on their bases, in Baghdad. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat 

The US Department of Defense has ordered its military commanders in Iraq to prepare for potential operations to destroy the pro-Iranian Kataib Hezbollah militia group, which Washington blames for the attack on Taji base that took place in March killing a British soldier and two US personnel.
The Pentagon is expected to deploy new air defense equipment, including Patriot air and missile defense batteries and C-RAM systems within the next two weeks.
The New York Times said secret Pentagon directive orders were planning to destroy Iranian-backed militia groups in Iraq.

This comes a week after the coalition forces to combat ISIS announced the redeployment of hundreds of troops to new bases in Iraq.

The US administration is discussing means to deter attacks by pro-Iranian militias without endangering US forces or risking deals with the Iraqi government.
Earlier, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker told journalists that the US will take measures it deems necessary to respond to militias. 
“If the Iraqi government doesn’t take steps to hold accountable those responsible for the attacks on coalition forces, which are there at the invitation of the Iraqi government, the US will be forced to continue to protect our forces proactively,” he said.

Meanwhile, the commander, Lt. Gen. Robert P. White, sent a memo last week during which he said that a new military campaign would require thousands more US troops be sent to Iraq and divert resources from what has been the primary US military mission there: training Iraqi troops to combat ISIS.
For his part, Iraqi Strategic expert Dr. Hisham al-Hashemi told Asharq Al-Awsat that this is an important shift in the US policy. Since the end of December 2019 until March 14, 2020, the US has been making tit-for-tat moves, however today it is deploying a new tact to deal with the enemy. 



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