In Rudaw

US officials cast doubt on militia video threatening Baghdad embassy

US officials have cast doubt on video footage of the US embassy in Baghdad published by a miltia group on Thursday, saying the footage is several months old.

According to two US officials who spoke to Rudaw English on Friday,  footage featured in the video, which threatened the embassy, may have been filmed several months ago.

“The video appears to be old, but {we are] not sure how old it is,” the US  official said, adding that they are unsure of who filmed the footage.

Another US official told Rudaw English that the footage is “several  months old, as there are items in the video that haven’t been there  for a while.”

Iranian-backed militia Usbat al-Thaireen militia released a three-minute video to their official Telegram channel late on Thursday, showing drone footage of the US embassy in Baghdad’s Green Zone, and warned that they are “tracking” US movements.

“US embassy, our eyes are tracking your movement, and you won’t achieve what you are planning,” the video said.

“This is the embassy of evil, which is clearly in our sight, and it is under the mercy of our missiles. If we want, we could destroy it anytime,” read a message posted by the group alongside the video.

Usbat al-Tharieen is a newly-formed armed militia in Iraq that shows loyalty to Iran and former Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Qasem Soleimani, who was killed by a US drone attack in Baghdad in early January.

The group released their first statement on March 13, in which they claimed responsibility for the deadly Katyusha rocket attack at Taji base on March 11, killing  two US personnel and one Briton.

The militia released a statement on Monday claiming it had also planned to target Ain al-Assad base in Anbar province, but had canceled its operation due to  the presence of Iraqi troops.

The video follows reports in the New York Times last week which  revealed US military commanders have been ordered to prepare to  “destroy” Kataib Hezbollah, another militia who have targeted multiple Iraqi bases hosting US troops.

Following months of heightened tensions between the US and Iran, rocket attacks on US infrastructure and personnel in Baghdad’s  fortified Green Zone and elsewhere in Iraq have become increasingly  frequent.

On December 27, a rocket attack on the K-1 military base in Kirkuk, widely blamed on Kataib Hezbollah, killed a US civilian contractor and injured other personnel.

The US responded with airstrikes on Kataib Hezbollah targets on  December 29, killing 25 of the militia’s fighters. A few days later, supporters of Kataib Hezbollah stormed the US embassy compound in Baghdad.

This was followed on January 3 by a US drone strike on Baghdad airport, killing Soleimani and Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) deputy chief  Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. Iran responded on January 8 with a barrage of  missiles targeting Iraqi bases hosting US troops.

Most recently on March 14, Kataib Hezbollah struck Taji military base with more than 30 Katyusha rockets in a rare daytime attack,  wounding three coalition troops and two Iraqis.

The Iraqi government has long promised to capture the groups behind  the attacks. To date, no one has been held responsible.

To protect its positions, the US has now deployed Patriot air defense batteries to Ain al-Assad military base in Anbar province and another  to Erbil.

Two more batteries destined for Iraq are still in Kuwait, according to AFP. Source