In Rudaw 

Asaib Ahl al-Haq commander’s arrest was for ‘criminal case’, not rocket attack: militia spokesperson

A spokesperson for an Iran-backed militia has denied allegations that one of its commanders was apprehended in connection with a recent rocket attack targeting the US embassy in Baghdad, instead attributing his arrest to a “criminal case”.

“The arrest of an Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH) militia commander is not related to the attack on the US embassy,” AAH spokesperson spokesperson Mahmood al-Rubaii told Iraqi state media on Sunday. “It is on a criminal charge”.

“There has not been any official statement that links Asaib to the embassy attack.”

Multiple rockets launched by an “outlaw group” fell inside al-Qadisiyah residential complex near the US Embassy on December 20. Though there were no casualties, there was material damage to buildings, the US embassy compound, and a number of civilian vehicles, according to the Iraqi Security Media Cell.

The rockets were launched from al-Rasheed military camp area, a former Iraqi Military Intelligence base located on the southern outskirts of Baghdad.

Kadhimi denounced the attack at a press conference the next day.

“The attack on the Green Zone was a cowardly, terrorist move,” the Iraqi premier said.

“We will not accept any attacks on diplomatic missions in Iraq,” he said. “We have arrested a number of people suspected of the attacks.”

AAH commander Jawad al-Talibawi said on Friday that a fellow member of the militia had been arrested in connection with the attack. Talibawi also accused security services of interfering in the rocket attack investigation.

Accounts linked to AAH published video clips on Friday of a group of masked gunmen who describe themselves as the “Islamic Resistance” moving through the streets of Baghdad and confirming that they are waiting for a “signal” from Khazali to carry out attacks “against America’s agents” – without identifying them.

Hours later, Kadhimi’s media office shared footage of the Iraqi premier making a rare visit to the streets of Baghdad, flanked by security force members.

Abu Ali al-Askari, security official for the Iran-backed Kataib Hezbollah militia, warned in a statement released Saturday that relations with other “resistance” factions were strong in response to the arrest of AAH commander.

Askari called on Kadhimi “not to test the patience of the resistance,” and threatened that the time was right to cut off his ears, ”same as you cut off a goat’s.”

Rubaii dismissed Askari’s remarks as “inappropriate” and said that the militia “denies such a statement.” Source