U.S. Airstrike Escalates Tensions Between Iraqi Prime Minister and Shia Militias
In a recent development, the killing of five Hashd al-Shaabi militiamen in a U.S. airstrike in Kirkuk has further intensified tensions between Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ al-Sudani and Shia leaders. The incident follows a series of attacks by the militias on U.S. bases in Iraq and Syria, contributing to an already strained relationship.
Al-Arabiya Al-Jadeed reported on Wednesday that the rift between PM Sudani and Hashd al-Shaabi militias had deepened following a statement by U.S. Ambassador Alina Romanowski, affirming that the federal government was aware of the U.S. attack in Kirkuk. The U.S. ambassador asserted that the strike was carried out in self-defense and that the federal government had been notified beforehand. However, as of now, neither the federal government nor the Shia Coordination Framework Coalition, the main components of the Iraqi government, have provided an official explanation for the incident.
The airstrike occurred on Sunday, targeting a militia headquarters in the disputed Kurdish province of Kirkuk and resulting in the death of five Hashd al-Shaabi militiamen. U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) later confirmed that the airstrike was a response to a plot by the militias to launch a drone attack.
“On December 3, near Kirkuk, Iraq, forces assigned to Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) engaged five militants preparing to launch a one-way attack drone,” explained CENTCOM in a statement. “Iraqi Security Forces were notified of the strike and responded to the location, where they confirmed the death of the militants and the destruction of the drone. The United States will continue to defend U.S. and coalition personnel from attacks,” the statement further noted.
The incident has fueled the ongoing tensions in the region, adding another layer of complexity to the delicate balance of power in Iraq. The strained relationship between Prime Minister al-Sudani and Hashd al-Shaabi militias raises concerns about the stability of the political landscape and the potential for further escalation in the coming days. International observers will be closely monitoring developments as diplomatic efforts may be crucial in de-escalating the situation and preventing further violence.