You were waiting for this… right? The Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) who are backed by Iran, that they’ve helped push the Islamic State from much of Iraq, is training its sights on the remaining U.S.-led coalition troops scattered across the country.
The 100,000-thousand-member force has fought both with and against Americans in Iraq. This can hardly come as a surprise to both the Iraqi and US governments.
“America should only be here for embassy, any military presence and we will target them,” Saif Ali, a 37-year-old member of the PMF’s Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba paramilitary — based in the southern Iraq governorate of Basra — told Fox News. “I fought the Americans after 2003, and the British in southern Iraq, and I am happy about that. I don’t hate the American people, only hate the U.S. military, and I have killed many of them.”
Ali is one of thousands of PMF members who also took advantage of Iran-supplied weapons and ammunition to take the lives of hundreds of U.S. troops during the insurgency that followed the invasion of Iraq.
Rayan al-Kildani, the 32-year-old leader of the PMF’s Babylon Brigades, an Iraqi Christian militia, noted that he, too, got his start fighting the Americans post-2003 — allegedly after learning how to use weapons from action-oriented TV shows and movies. And although he has relatives in the U.S. and even visited a few years ago, he said that he threatened to attack U.S. intelligence personnel he encountered after the Mosul battle and ultimately wants to see American forces gone.
“America was not there at the beginning of this ISIS crisis when we needed them most. We are strong now, and as long as we are fighting, Iraq does not need Americans on our land.”
The Iraqi government has a sensitive issue to deal with here. These militias are gaining influence in the political arena as well as militarily and many of the members are expected to run in political elections in the spring.
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