US airstrikes in W. Iraq spark outrage among Iraqis

2024-02-04 00:40:53 GMT2024-02-04 08:40:53(Beijing Time) Sina English


A destroyed building is pictured at the site of a US airstrike in al-Qaim, Iraq on February 3, 2024.

At least 16 people were killed and 36 wounded in US airstrikes on positions of the paramilitary Hashd Shaabi forces in western Iraq, sparking a wave of anger and condemnation among Iraqis.

On Saturday, Hashd Shaabi said in a statement that the airstrikes on Friday night were "a blatant aggression" on its headquarters in the al-Qaim area, and stressed the casualties could rise as efforts to remove debris are still underway, looking for more bodies.

Iraqi President Abdul Latif Rashid said in a statement on the same day that the airstrikes represent a flagrant violation of Iraq's sovereignty and came as Iraq has shown a clear desire to organize the work of the international coalition through a round of discussions.

Accordingly, he stressed that the recent attacks will negatively impact the prospects for negotiations as violence breeds further violence, Rashid said.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia' al-Sudani announced a three-day mourning for those who were killed by the US airstrikes in al-Qaim and the nearby Akashat areas in Anbar province, according to a statement issued by al-Sudani's media office on Saturday.

Earlier in the day, Iraqi government spokesman Basim al-Awadi said that the government believes that "the presence of the international coalition forces on Iraqi soil has become a threat to security and stability in the country and a justification for involving Iraq in regional and international conflicts."

The Iraqi parliament also condemned the US airstrikes in a statement. The parliament will hold an emergency session in the coming days to discuss the repeated US airstrikes in Iraq and to "put an end to the violations of the US-led coalition forces to the sovereignty of Iraq."

The statement concluded that "the recurrence of US attacks on Iraqi security headquarters is a major recklessness that cannot be accepted."

Meanwhile, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry summoned the US charge d'affaires in Baghdad and handed him a protest note, in which Iraq expressed its rejection and condemnation of the US airstrikes that targeted Iraqi security forces as well as civilian sites in the Akashat and al-Qaim areas.

According to the ministry statement, the note stressed Iraq's rejection of making its territories an arena for settling scores between conflicting countries, said the statement.

The Iranian-backed al-Nujaba Movement said in a statement that it will retaliate against the recent US airstrikes and "will respond with what it deems appropriate at the time and place it wants."

Later Saturday, the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an armed group which al-Nujaba is part of, claimed responsibility for a drone attack on a US base in Kharab al-Jir town in Syria's northeastern province of al-Hasakah in an online statement.

The statement said the attack was part of a series of retaliatory measures against the US forces amid the ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip.

The US Central Command said in a statement on Friday that the US forces conducted airstrikes on more than 85 targets in Iraq and Syria against Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and affiliated militia groups.

The US airstrikes came in response to recent attacks by Iranian-backed militias that caused the first US fatalities since the Israel-Hamas conflict broke out on October 7, 2023.