Picture: Philippe Huguen / AFP / December 7, 2015 – A man walks past a banner reading ‘Pray for Deir Ezzor’. The US base in Iraq’s Erbil has been attacked by Iraqi militias with drones on Monday, while similar attacks have been reported from Syria’s Deir Ezzor. The US and Israel have used attacks by regional militias as an excuse to attack military and civilian targets in Syria and other places, the writer says.
By Peoples Dispatch
In yet another sign of its growing direct involvement in the regional escalation around the Israeli war in Gaza, the US attacked multiple locations inside Iraq on Tuesday, December 26, Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin confirmed in a press statement.
The statement claimed that the US strikes at three places allegedly affiliated to “Kataib Hezbollah and affiliated groups” were in response to “a series of attacks against US personnel in Iraq and Syria”.
The Iraqi government condemned the attacks calling it a hostile act and an attack on the country’s sovereignty. At least one Iraqi soldier was killed in the attacks and 18 others were wounded, according to the government.
The US base in Iraq’s Erbil was attacked by Iraqi militias with drones on Monday, injuring at least three US soldiers. One of the injured US soldiers was in a serious condition. Similar attacks were reported from Syria’s Deir Ezzor as well.
Iraqi militias claimed that the attack on Erbil and other bases were carried out in retaliation to the US support to the Israeli war in Gaza in which over 20,600 Palestinians have been killed since October 7. Nearly 55,000 other Palestinians have been injured in Israel’s indiscriminate bombing and ground offensive.
The US has shielded Israel diplomatically by blocking UNSC resolutions demanding a ceasefire in Gaza and has provided billions of dollars in military aid for its assault on the occupied Palestinian territory.
Militias in the region have targeted the US bases in the region since October 7. According to the statistics provided by the US, its bases have been attacked over 100 times since October.
Ansar Allah (Houthis), which leads the government from Sana’a in Yemen, has targeted ships going to and from Israel through Bab al-Mandab and the Red Sea. The attacks have forced many shipping companies to suspend their operations through the region.
The US has established an international maritime alliance under the so-called Operation Prosperity Guardian with over a dozen countries to prevent such attacks. It has deployed its warships to guard the commercial ships going towards Israel, leading some of the companies to express their willingness to resume their services.
On Monday, minister of defence in the Sana’a government Mohammad al-Atifi, however, asserted that ships other than those heading to Israel were never in danger. He expressed his country’s resolve to attack ships heading to Israel despite the US-led coalition, claiming that Yemen is fully prepared to deal with all possible scenarios.
Israel kills a senior IRGC official in Syria
The US and Israel have used attacks by regional militias as an excuse to attack military and civilian targets in Syria and other places. In one such attack carried out by the Israelis on Monday, a senior Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander Seyyed Razi Mousavi was killed in Damascus.
Iran has been providing assistance to the Syrian government in its war against the rebel militias and terrorist groups such as ISIS in the country. Israel claims Iranian presence in Syria threatens its national security and has carried out thousands of air strikes there since 2011 killing hundreds of people, mostly civilians.
Mousavi is the third IRGC official who has been killed in Israeli air strikes in Syria this month. Two IRGC officials working as military advisors to Bashar al-Assad government, Mohammad Ali Ataee Soorcheh and Panah Taqizadeh, were assassinated in an Israeli air strike in the first week of December.
The assassination of Mousavi by Israel was condemned by Iran and several other regional militias. Responding to Mousavi’s assassination, spokesperson of the Iranian foreign ministry Naseer Kanani said it is “a continuation of all crimes committed by the Zionist entity, violating all international laws and norms”. Kanani claimed that “Iran retains the right to respond to this crime at the appropriate time and place”, Al Mayadeen reported.
Lebanese resistance force Hezbollah called the assassination of Mousavi, yet another crime committed by the Israeli occupation and pledged retaliation. Hezbollah has been targeting Israeli forces in northern Israel since October 7 in solidarity with the Palestinian resistance in Gaza. In response, Israel has targeted civilian residential areas and infrastructure in southern Lebanon killing over a dozen citizens.
In a statement, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a left-wing resistance group, remembered Mousavi’s contribution in strengthening resistance against the Israeli occupation.
This article was published on Peoples Dispatch