Iraq’s Kata’ib Hezbollah, the Iran-backed Shiite militia group that killed an American civilian contractor in December while launching terrorist rocket attacks against Iraqi military bases, issued a statement on Wednesday accusing the U.S. military of using the coronavirus pandemic as cover to attack its own bases.
Iran’s Fars news agency uncritically quoted the Kata’ib Hezbollah statement, which included threats to respond with “full force” to any U.S. move by attacking American “military, security, and economic facilities” across Iraq:
In the current difficult situation, when Iraq has mobilized all its resources to contain the spread of the coronavirus and the popular forces are busy helping the government in the battle, the PMU has been monitoring “suspicious moves by US forces and their mercenaries,” who intend to exploit the pandemic and advance certain plots in the country, the statement said.
The US plans to conduct heliborne operations backed up by ground troops and fighter jets against positions belonging to security agencies and positions of Iraq’s resistance groups, the statement added.
The statement further said that certain Iraqi military and security forces would participate in the operation.
Kata’ib Hezbollah also warned against the dangerous consequences of such a raid, saying it would worsen the health crisis in Iraq and bring about a humanitarian and social disaster there.
The terrorists vowed bloody revenge against any Iraqis they decide are “collaborating” with the United States.
“The Iraqi side will be treated like an enemy, and its betrayal and crime will never be forgiven … and will be heavily punished according to law,” the group said.
Unsurprisingly, Kata’ib Hezbollah is still upset by the deaths of their deputy chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and Iranian terrorist mastermind Gen. Qassem Soleimani in an airstrike the United States conducted to retaliate for the militia’s attacks on American positions and the unsuccessful siege of the U.S. embassy organized by Soleimani.
The Iran-backed militia group denied involvement in several more recent rocket attacks, including one conducted against an Iraqi police and military command center in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone on Thursday. The command center is located only a few hundred yards away from the U.S. Embassy.
Contrary to Kata’ib Hezbollah’s coronavirus conspiracy theories, the U.S. and its coalition partners are actually withdrawing from Iraqi military bases, not planning major new operations. Coalition forces commenced a scheduled withdrawal from the Qayara airbase in northern Iraq on Thursday, not long after the rocket attack on the Green Zone.
“Our partnership continues with the Iraqi security forces, but in the future you will see less coalition troops in fewer places with fewer bases,” coalition spokesman Myles Caggins said.
Meanwhile, France announced it would withdraw all military forces from Iraq because they are needed at home to deal with the coronavirus crisis. Caggins stated that only French training personnel have gone home, leaving military advisers and air support in position in Iraq, and he expected the trainers to return as soon as possible.
Iraq’s Health Ministry has logged a relatively modest 346 coronavirus cases so far, with 29 deaths. Internal and external travel bans were extended until April 11 on Thursday to keep the virus from spreading. Last weekend, the Iraqi government deployed troops to prevent hundreds of thousands of Shiite Muslims from gathering at a shrine north of Baghdad in defiance of curfew orders and restrictions on large gatherings.