PMU: Confrontation with US Troops Can Happen At Any Moment
Iraqi Kataib Hezbollah on Monday warned it might engage in armed confrontation with US forces in Iraq at any moment.
It is the second, if not the third warning issued by the group against American troops in the country since the Iraqi government declared final victory over the Wahhabi Daesh [Arabic acronym for "ISI" / "ISIL"] in late 2017.
There are over 5,000 US troops in Iraq. The US-led Coalition against Daesh on Monday stated its focus in Iraq would shift from combat operations to sustaining military gains against the extremist group.
The coalition statement revealed its troops would remain in Iraq as Daesh extremists "continue to pose a threat" to the country's security and risk transition back into an insurgency.
"The Coalition will tailor its forces in consultation with the Iraqi partners to ensure the lasting defeat of [‘ISIS']," Brig. Gen. Jonathan Braga, the coalition's director of operations, said.
The statement came the same day as an Iraqi official said the US would be reducing its presence in the country since the "battle against Daesh has ended."
Jaafar Al-Husseini, spokesman for the Kataib Hezbollah, also known as the Iraqi Hezbollah Brigades, "There is no stable Iraq with the presence of the Americans."
Iraqi government officials have asserted on more than one occasion that the presence of US troops in the country came at the request of a US-led coalition against terrorism.
"The Americans did not come to Iraq at the request of the government," Husseini said.
Baghdad says the US' presence is mainly focused on training and advising Iraqis.
Husseini said clashes with the Americans "may start at any moment ... This time the Americans will not be able to talk themselves out of it."
The Iraqi Hezbollah Brigades are one of the most prominent factions of the Hashd al-Shaabi, also known as the Popular Mobilization Unit (PMU), formed three years ago following the emergence of Daesh in Iraq in 2014.