Baghdad Operations Command: Intention To Attack U.S. Embassy In Baghdad On Anniversary Of Soleimani's Death; Threats To Attack U.S. Forces On Iraq-Jordan Border

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January 2, 2022

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On December 31, 2021, Iraqi news websites disclosed a memorandum from Baghdad Operations Command which states that there is "confirmed" intelligence about the intention of "elements outside the law" to attack the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad this month at the time when, two years ago, on January 3, 2020, Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Al-Hashd Al-Sha'abi (Popular Mobilization Units, PMU) were assassinated, or at dawn in the morning hours of January 3, 2022.

Based on instructions issued by the Baghdad Operations Command to its subsidiary units, the attack is expected to be perpetrated by means of rocket or drone fire, and it is believed that it will originate in either Palestine Street or Al-Shu'ala Street. The Operations Command has ordered that infantry and motorized forces be deployed in those areas, and in whichever places lend themselves to the execution of "indirect fire" at the embassy; that suspicious vehicles be searched; and that its units cooperate with the residents of that neighborhood to be on the lookout for any suspicious movement. It has warned that the unit commanders will bear the responsibility for every security incident in their sectors.[1] 

This alert comes in the context of the declarations from senior members of the militias that they do not accept the statement by Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi that the American forces in Iraq have concluded their combat mission, and that they view the U.S. Embassy as a legitimate target and not as an ordinary diplomatic mission because, they allege, there are military and security elements on its territory, and there are security and military aspects to its objectives in Iraq.[2]

According to the Sabereen News Telegram channel which supports Iran-backed militias in Iraq, the militias and the groups subordinate to them are preparing to attack the U.S. Embassy, and on December 31, 2021, the channel reported that a "special source" from the Ashab Al-Kahf group contended that in the early hours of that morning the U.S. Embassy alarms had been activated following an "intelligence mission of one of our drones above it."[3]

Threats were also expressed during the mass rallies organized by the militias in Baghdad on the anniversaries of the assassinations of Soleimani and Al-Muhandis, and of the bombing of the militias' positions on the Syria-Iraq border on December 29, 2019. At the rally in Baghdad the protestors burned American flags and also a model of the U.S. Embassy, to recall the breach of the embassy in response to the bombing of the militias' positions in 2019.[4]

It should be noted that following the publication of the Baghdad Operations Command memorandum, the Sabereen News Telegram channel posted a warning to the "mobile Katyusha cells" that the security forces were laying both in-vehicle and infantry force ambushes on Palestine Street in Baghdad.[5]

The Iran-backed militias continue to threaten to attack the U.S. forces in Iraq and to claim responsibility for attacks. On December 31, 2021, Ashab Al-Kahf claimed responsibility for an attack on an American forces' logistics support convoy in Dhi Qar Governorate, carried out with shoulder-fired rockets and IEDs.

Several hours before Ashab Al-Kahf claimed responsibility, it released a video clip on its Telegram channel in which it threatened to attack U.S. convoys traveling through the Traibeel Border Crossing between Jordan and Iraq. The clip includes aerial photographs of the border crossing.[6] It should be noted that this is the first time that the militias and their subsidiaries have threatened attacks in the region.

 

 

[1] December 31, 2021.

[3] Telegram, December 31, 2021.

[4] Telegram, December 31, 2021.

[5] Telegram, December 31, 2021.

[6] Telegram, December 31, 2021.

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