New Iraq Group Claiming Attacks on U.S. Troops Says It Can Strike Israel

An Iraqi militia that has claimed a series of rocket attacks targeting U.S. and partnered troops has claimed its fighters were capable of striking Israel.

In one of two videos posted Tuesday and Wednesday by what appeared to be a new Shiite Muslim militia calling itself Usbat al-Thayireen, or League of Revolutionaries, a masked man wielding a Kalashnikov-style assault rifle warned recent rocket strikes against Al-Taji and Basmaya military camps "and whatever will happen far beyond that" was just the beginning.

"It is the least of the power that we can use against them," the camo-clad figure said on the backdrop of an Iraqi flag, warning the group's "victorious, blooming, prideful and dignified arsenal has far longer-range weapons that can kill you in the land of your spoiled child, Israel."

He then directly addressed President Donald Trump and the friends of the two U.S. personnel who were killed alongside a U.K. service member by Katyusha rocket fire at Al-Taji last week, urging them "to leave vertically before we force them to leave horizontally."

The remarks represent the latest threat to the U.S.-led coalition that has battled the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) since 2014. Since the U.S.-Iran fallout over a multilateral nuclear deal in 2018, Tehran-friendly Shiite Muslim militias have emerged as a dangerous adversary for both the U.S. and its allies.

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A man representing a new Iraqi militia called Usbat al-Thayireen, or League of Revolutionaries, threaten further attacks on U.S. and its allies should they remain in Iraq a still from a video published March 17. Supporters of the League of Revolutionaries

The Pentagon has blamed most unclaimed rocket attacks against U.S. personnel in Iraq on another group called Kataib Hezbollah. The Iran-supported paramilitaries were designated a terrorist organization by Washington in 2009 as U.S. troops faced off with both them and Sunni Muslim jihadi groups like Al-Qaeda.

When ISIS swept through Iraq, both the U.S. and Iran stepped in to help. Kataib Hezbollah joined other mostly Shiite Muslim militias in comprising the Popular Mobilization Forces, an Iraqi state-sponsored collective that has expanded to include dozens of fighter brigades.

The Popular Mobilization Forces recently told Newsweek that "there is no affiliation" between Usbat al-Thayireen and the official militia formations.

Usbat al-Thayireen's logo does, however, bear the signature marks of international groups supported by Iran. These include not only Iraqi militias but many others such as Lebanon's Hezbollah, Afghanistan's Fatemiyoun and Pakistan's Zainabiyoun, each of whom brandishes revolutionary insignia featuring a Kalashnikov-like rifle, Quranic quote, globe, book and seven-leafed branch also seen on the standard of Iran's own Revolutionary Guard.

This elite Iranian force's expeditionary unit, the Quds Force, played an instrumental role in establishing ties abroad. Its longtime commander, Major General Qassem Soleimani, was assassinated alongside Popular Mobilization Forces deputy leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis at Baghdad International Airport in January amid a violent resurgence in the U.S. and Iran's feud, a fight in which groups like Usbat al-Thayireen are on the frontlines.

Iraqi lawmakers already voted to expel foreign forces in the wake of the strike that killed Soleimani and Muhandis and the country expressed new outrage last week in the wake of U.S. airstrikes that targeted five alleged weapons depots in retaliation for the Taji attack but reportedly killed three Iraqi troops, two cops and a civilian working at an airport under construction in the holy city of Karbala. Days after the strikes, U.S. troops left a base near the city of Al-Qaim near the border where Syria, where forces backed by the U.S. and Iran were also active against ISIS.

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A picture shared March 11 by the Iraqi military shows what was said to be a Kia Bongo equipped with a Katyusha rocket launcher involved in a deadly attack on U.S. and allied personnel at Taji military camp. The attack was later claimed by the Usbat al-Thayireen militia. IRAQI SECURITY MEDIA CELL

In the second video posted by Usbat al-Thayireen, the group described itself as "a martyrdom project whose mission is striking the American occupation forces, striking its bases, striking the occupations' embassy and avenging the martyred leaders and their companions."

"The Islamic resistance of Usbat al-Thayireen vows to strike the occupation forces' bases and embassy in the coming days and will continue striking the occupation until it exits the country, and the matter will be taken further if the occupier does not leave, the group's video statement said. "We say to the hypocrites who are collaborators at the evil embassy: Your days are numbered and you will face your fate very soon."

Soleimani's successor, Brigadier General Esmail Qaani, has vowed to carry on supporting the cross-border Axis of Resistance. Iran denies directly arming allied groups abroad but has been accused of supplying some with advanced, longer-range weapons such as ballistic missiles.

An Israeli military official recently told Newsweek that Israel was planning to preemptively strike Hezbollah positions involved in the group's attempt to acquire and develop precision-guided munitions. The official also said the country's armed forces were preparing to, in the event of a conflict with Iran, defend again simultaneous rocket and missile attacks from multiple theaters.