A statement was released by Iraq’s Joint Operation Command (JOC) this week stating that the alleged Iraqi military forces that were killed in Syria by airstrikes over the weekend weren’t under the JOC’s command. Simultaneously the JOC did not deny the existence of Iraqi soldiers conducting operations in Syria outside its command. Last month, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi proclaimed that he would be send Iraqi military forces to Syria in support of anti-Islamic State efforts.
The statement released by the JOC read,
The Joint Operations Command would like to inform the world and media that our security forces, including all of its components, from the army, the police and Hashd al-Shaabi work on securing the Iraqi border, including the Iraqi-Syrian [border], and none of these factions have been struck with airstrikes. We are following what happened since yesterday June 17 to these factions, whom we confirmed were not communicating with our forces and did not have coordination with the Joint Operations Command through available channels. The Joint Operations Command welcomes any efforts done by factions on Syrian soil through countering Daesh [ISIS] terrorist gangs and fending off danger on joint borders between Iraq and Syria. We also condemn the assault on these factions. We are opening investigations concerning the responsible parties for causing the loss of Iraqi youth and trespassing against Iraqi and Syria sovereignty.”
Several Iraqi paramilitary groups have fought in Syria such as the Najbah Movement and Kata’ib Hezbollah, both of which are considered factions of the Hashd al-Shaabi. The Hashd al-Shaabi issued a statement as well claiming that a group of its fighters had been caught in a United States coalition airstrike, they reported that 22 were killed and another 12 were injured. This was denied by the coalition though who claim that they never conducted a strike.
The Iraqi JOC stated that deputy commander, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, of the Hashd al-Shaabi claimed he had no knowledge of the statement and insisted that the Hashd al-Shaabi did not have any forces operating in the area. The airstrike supposedly took place on a Syrian Army outpost located in al-Hari, located on the Euphrates River near Iraq’s border. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that 38 pro-Assad regime militants were killed. Coalition spokesperson Sean Ryan said that the coalition forces had no hand in the operation.
Featured image: ISOF. By Halasadi [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons