Several Iraqi militias, which have been attacking the U.S. for quite some time, have vowed to attack American forces again and expel them by force from Iraq if the December 31 deadline to withdraw U.S. combat troops from the country expires. 

According to Newsweek, the Iraqi Resistance Coordination Commission, a loose organization of paramilitary groups aligned with the Iranian Axis of Resistance that is opposed to the American presence in the region, stated that its members were “closely monitoring the extent of commitment to the outcomes of the so-called strategic dialogue round.” Under the strategic dialogue, in July Washington and Baghdad agreed to withdraw U.S. combat forces from Iraq.

The statement read that the militias “did not believe in the seriousness of the occupation and its commitment” to withdrawing combat troops from Iraq according to the established timeline. In light of this belief, the militia council instead threatened to expel U.S. troops by force.

“We affirm that the weapons of the honorable resistance, which have been talked about a lot in the past days, and some insisted on embroiling them in recent political rivalries, will be ready to dismember the occupation as soon as the moment comes and the deadline ends after twelve o’clock in the evening of 12/31/2021,” the statement added.

US Embassy Baghdad Iraq
The U.S. Embassy in the heavily fortified “Green Zone” of Baghdad was the subject of an attack by pro-Iranian militias in January 2020. (File photo)

The July agreement between the Biden and al-Kadhimi administrations is not expected to be the pell-mell evacuation that unfolded in Afghanistan. In fact, there isn’t expected to be many of the 2,500 troops that are still deployed in Iraq withdrawn at all. 

Tahseen al-Khafaji, a spokesman for the Iraqi Joint Operations Command, told local news media that while the U.S. is sticking to its December 31 withdrawal timetable, it will continue to provide Iraq with armaments, training, and intelligence against the Islamic State.

The U.S. withdrawal of “combat troops” is expected to be mainly a paper drill, with the majority of troops simply being re-classified from a combat to an advisory one. This agreement was supposed to give Kadhimi some time to conduct the October elections. In the elections, Iraqis voted to curtail the influence of pro-Iranian factions. 

pro-Iranian militias in Iraq
A group of pro-Iranian militias in Iraq. (YouTube)

The militia council and many of the Shia groups that lost seats in the election have claimed election fraud took place. However, the Iraq Independent Election Commission has rejected nearly all of the complaints as baseless. After the election, the residence of Prime Minister Kadhimi was targeted by small, explosives-laden drones in an assassination attempt.