An animated video, which is an obvious threat for the United States to get out of Iraq, was shown on al Etejah Television. The short 45-second video portrays American troops as occupiers and the fist of Kata’ib Hezbollah, wrapped in the Iraqi and Hezbollah flags, smashing American vehicles and tanks with the slogan, “expel the occupation” superimposed.
The video was also aired by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI)’s Iran Threat Monitor Project.
MEMRI is a self-described “non-partisan, independent research institute providing research, analysis, and translation of primary materials covering a wide range of issues including on [sic] terrorism and ideological trends in the Middle East.”
MEMRI posted a disclaimer that stated, “These videos are provided as a public service to an international viewing audience to bridge the language gap and better educate and inform. Material about the states of terrorists and extremists is provided to alert the public to threats and in no way constitutes an endorsement of such activities.”
The animation begins with coffins draped with the U.S. flag being flown out by a CH-47 Chinook helicopter. As the helicopter lifts off, the message — as translated by MEMRI — “expel the occupation” flashes across the screen.
The American-made HUMVEEs and M-1 tanks are shown being tossed high into the air by massive fireball explosions as a giant fist draped in the Iraqi and Hezbollah flags raises above the conflagration of American military vehicles. Again the message repeats, “expel the occupation.”
Al-Etejah Television is one of the most-watched channels in Iraq. It broadcasts in Arabic but its website is also in English. It has 500 employees. Its offices are located in the district of Karrada in Baghdad and in Beirut. Not surprisingly, given the animation’s content, it is owned and operated by Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH), one of the largest Iranian-proxy militias in Iraq.
KH was commanded by Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, but he was killed along with Major General Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s Quds Force in an American drone strike in early January of this year.
The KH has attempted to force the U.S. out of Iraq since the invasion. It has been posting videos of its attacks on Americans since 2007. Since October, KH has been responsible for over three dozen attacks on U.S. bases and facilities in Iraq, including the U.S. Embassy.
In late December, the USAF conducted airstrikes against KH’s headquarters and other units in response to the aforementioned attacks. KH then attacked the U.S. in the Green Zone and tried to storm the U.S. Embassy under the order of Muhandis and Soleimani. In retaliation, the two were killed in a drone strike on January 3rd. Iran then launched a massive ballistic missile attack on an American base in Iraq.
The Iranian proxies have made it clear that they will not stop attacking Americans until they leave the Middle East.
Iran is ostensibly in Iraq to also support the Iraqi government’s fight against ISIS. But the Islamic State is secondary to Iran’s interest. Iran runs and supports multiple militias in Iraq under the umbrella of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF). KH is one such militia.
However, Iraq’s new prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, promised Washington to take tougher action against groups that have targeted U.S. installations. In June, he ordered Iraq’s elite Counter-Terrorism Service to raid Kata’ib Hezbollah’s headquarters. The raid was “carried out in an effort to preempt an impending rocket attack on the Green Zone and Baghdad International Airport, both of which house U.S. troops,” in a statement released at the time. During the raid, the Iraqis seized at least 10 rockets.
The United States currently has about 5,000 troops in Iraq. Their mission is to train the Iraqi security forces and to continue the fight against ISIS.