In this July 18, 2017 photo, Iraqi volunteer forces train in their camp in Najaf. (By AP)
TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - A commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) has held the US-led coalition accountable for a recent deadly attack on its forces near the Syrian border, saying Daesh terrorists could not have been behind the assault as they are not in possession of smart weapons.
On August 7, the PMU’s Sayyad al-Shuhada Brigades said its military base in the al-Tanf region had come under a smart bomb and artillery attack by the US-led coalition, which purports to be fighting Daesh in Iraq and Syria.
More than 30 Iraqi volunteer forces, known as Hashd al-Sha’abi, were killed in the assault.
Daesh has claimed responsibility for the incident.
Meanwhile, US Army Colonel Ryan Dillon, the spokesman for the US-led forces, rejected the reports as “inaccurate” and denied having conducted air attacks in that area at the time.
However, Karim al-Nouri, a PMU spokesman, told Lebanon’s al-Mayadeen television channel that the attack could not have been conducted by Daesh terrorists since they are not in possession of any smart bombs as the ones that hit the Iraqi base.
He described the attack as intentional, saying it was impossible for the US military to have mistakenly targeted the Iraqi troops.
The US had, prior to the incident, threatened Hashd al-Sha’abi forces in the area and warned them against approaching the Iraq-Syria border, the commander said.
Speaking to Iran’s Tasnim News Agency on Tuesday, Abu Ala al-Wella’ei, who commands the Brigades, said the attack had been followed by a Daesh strike against the Hashd al-Sha’abi forces in the area.
The nature of the assault, he said, indicates a team-up between the US-led coalition and Daesh.
He rejected claims that the US attack could have been carried out by mistake, saying drones perform ceaseless surveillance operations over the area giving the US forces perfect command over the situation.
Al-Wella’ei called Operation Inherent Resolve, the codename for the US-led offensives, a sham, saying the mission was rather providing air cover for Takfiris on the Iraqi-Syrian border.
Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Tuesday that an initial investigation indicates Daesh had been behind the attack.
“It seems that Daesh carried out a breach using artillery and car bombs,” Abadi said in a televised press conference in Baghdad.
“The international coalition has no authority to carry out bombardment without the knowledge of Iraq,” the premier said.
Hashd al-Sha’abi is a group of Shia and Sunni volunteer fighters that was formed after the emergence of Daesh in Iraq in 2014. Back then, it helped strengthen the government forces, which had suffered heavy setbacks in the face of sweeping Daesh advances.
Hashd al-Sha’abi also played a significant part in the months-long operations, that culminated in the liberation of Mosul, the terror group’s last urban stronghold in Iraq, earlier this year.
Last November, the Iraqi parliament recognized Hashd al-Sha’abi as an official force with similar rights as those of the regular army.