Rudaw

Targeting our forces a dangerous precedent: Hashd al-Shaabi

Hashd al-Shaabi is demanding accountability after at least 22 of their fighters were killed in an airstrike in Syria that the force described as setting a dangerous precedent.

“The airstrikes that targeted some of Hashd al-Shaabi forces is frankly a very dangerous affair and precedent.  There has to be quick investigations by the Iraqi government and even on the part of the international coalition,” said Karim al-Nouri, ex-spokesperson for the Hashd’s board and current leader in the Fatih coalition.

The number of dead in the airstrike in al-Hari, Syria near the border with Iraq late on Sunday night has risen to 55, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The Iraqi Hashd militias confirmed that 22 of their fighters were killed, mostly members of Kataib Hezbollah. The Observatory said that Syrians and Iranians were among the dead.

Iraq’s Joint Operations Command, in a vague statement, said parties responsible for the loss of Iraqi youth must be held accountable, adding that the forces targeted weren’t acting under their command.

No one has taken responsibility for the airstrikes, as of yet. Syria blamed the US-led coalition, but the coalition has denied they carried out any activity in the al-Hari area at the time.

Hashd al-Shaabi’s Nouri asserted that the coalition “knows these areas” and questioned their motives.

“If it is… to create new a new reality on the ground in the area, or regional rivalries, then these are dangerous talks. We don’t want to be part of regional rivalry,” he said, demanding accountability.

Israel has also been implicated as a possible guilty party.

Kataib Hezbollah, an Iraqi militia within the Hashd and backed by Iran, warned they could retaliate.

“This terrible crime will reinitiate confrontations with the Zionist entity and the American plan. We in the Kataib Hezbollah have never and will never hesitate in walking that path,” reads a statement issued by the group on Tuesday.

Vowing to find out who was responsible, the group threatened a “proportionate” response.

Hashd al-Shaabi, initially founded on a fatwa from Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the highest Shiite authority in Iraq, has been integrated into the Iraqi defense apparatus.

Individual groups under the Hashd banner have close ties with Iran and some have fought in Syria as part of Iranian efforts to prop up the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Source