Iran-Backed 'Islamic Resistance In Iraq' Eulogizes Fighter From Hizbullah Brigades Killed In U.S. Counterattack In Western Iraq; New Faction Claims Attack On U.S. Base To Avenge Fighter

November 21, 2023

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On November 21, 2023, Telegram channels linked to Iran-backed militias in Iraq shared multiple posts announcing the death of Hizbullah Brigades fighter Fadel Al-Maksousi in a U.S. airstrike.

According to the posts, Al-Maksousi was killed in a U.S. counterattack, which came in response to an attack on a U.S. base in Anbar that was claimed earlier today by the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an umbrella organization consisting of several Iran-backed Iraqi militias.

Following the death of Al-Maksousi, a new Iraqi faction called Al-Zafireen Group, which is affiliated with the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, claimed responsibility for a mortar attack on the same U.S. base in western Iraq, stating that the attack was carried out to avenge Al-Maksousi.

There have been at least 66 claimed attacks by the Islamic Resistance in Iraq on U.S. targets in Iraq and Syria since October 7, 2023, when Hamas launched a surprise assault on southern Israel.

Statement By The Islamic Resistance In Iraq

"Al-Elam Al-Harbi" ("Media War"), a Telegram channel affiliated with the Iran-backed Islamic Resistance in Iraq, published a statement announcing the death of "martyr Sayyid Reda," a nom de guerre of Fadel 'Attiya Shanin Al-Maksousi.[1]

This is the first time the group published a statement to eulogize a fighter since its emergence on October 17.

According to the statement, Al-Maksousi died "in the battle of justice against falsehood, which is embodied by the American occupation forces in Iraq."

The statement further vowed to "continue to confront the enemy until victory is achieved and the country is cleansed of the filth of occupation."

Other Telegram channels linked to Iraqi militias, such as "Jihad Al-Samiteen," indicated in their posts that the slain fighter was a member of the Iran-backed Iraqi Hizbullah Brigades.[2]


Statement By Al-Nujaba'

The Iran-backed Al-Nujaba Movement issued a statement glorifying Al-Maksousi's "martyrdom."[3] The statement condemned U.S. forces for the attack, arguing that the attack proves the falsehood of U.S. claims that its presence in the country does involve a combat mission.

The statement read: "The heinous crime committed by the [U.S.] occupation establishes their lies about the existence of a merely advisory force. It also clearly reveals the existence of counterattacks [by U.S. forces] which threaten the security of Iraq and that of the region."

It continued, asserting that victory against U.S forces is assured and imminent: "The natural result of our fight is imminent victory, the rejection of occupation, and the liberation of Iraq militarily."

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Statement By Hizbullah Brigades Political Wing

Sabereen News, a media outlet affiliated with Iran-backed militias in Iraq, shared a statement from the Movement for Jihad and Construction, the political wing of the Hizbullah Brigades, eulogizing Al-Maksousi.[4]

Congratulating the slain fighter and his family for his martyrdom, the statement suggested that he died in support of Hamas's assault on southern Israel on October 7, writing that Al-Maksousi died "on the path to Jerusalem."

Describing the loss of Al-Maksousi and others like him as "an epic line for the awakening of the people," the statement said he fighter's death was "a model for youth, drawing the horizon to achieve Islamic and humanitarian goals in support of Palestine and the liberation of Jerusalem."

Closing, the statement warned the U.S.: "America must learn that the people of the world love martyrdom and demand it. They will continue in the footsteps of these happy martyrs. They will not retreat. This is the way no matter the cost."

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Photos From Funeral

Photos of Al-Maksosusi's funeral procession in Baghdad were circulated on Telegram. S'oud Al-Sa'idi, an Iraqi MP for Harakat Al-Haaquq, the political wing of Kata'ib Hizbullah, was among the attendees.

Another man standing beside Al-Sa'idi was wearing a Yemeni-style dagger, which may indicate that he is affiliated with Yemen's Iran-backed Ansar Allah (Houthis).

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Attack To Avenge Al-Maksousi

Following news of Al-Maksousi's death, the Al-Zafireen Group, which is a member faction in the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, issued a statement claiming a revenge attack on U.S. troops in western Iraq.[5]

It said: "Under the banner of 'Operation Fadel Al-Maksousi the Martyr', mujahideen of the Islamic Resistance in Iraq – Al-Zafireen Group demolished the 'Ain Al-Assad American occupation base in Al-Anbar province with four 120-mm high-explosive mortar shells of different types, damaging military points around the base."

Separately, it wrote that it targeted "an enemy force gathered around 'Ain Al-Ghad in Al-Sahl, Al-Anbar, near oil wells, with 120-mm medium-explosive mortar shells and a third 81-mm short-range mortar shell."

The statement claimed that the attack was successful: "The armaments struck their targets, confusing the enemy, and the mujahideen withdrew safely."

It directly linked the assault to "the American enemy's assassination of the hero mujahid martyr Fadel Al-Maksousi," who died while carrying out "his jihadi duty," it said.

The statement closed with a promise to increase operations until U.S. forces withdraw from Iraq: "The Al-Zafireen Group is preparing more and more operations, which will gradually escalate, until the last soldier of the occupation leaves this holy land. Oh Fadel, your blood is the spark that will set alight the occupiers, with the help of the Almighty."

The attack the 66th claimed attack on U.S. forces in Syria and Iraq by Iran-backed groups since October 7, which justify their attacks by citing U.S. presence in Iraq as well as U.S. support for Israel.

Al-Zafireen Group released footage documenting the attack on Telegram.

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U.S. Confirmation

In a statement to the pro-Emirati government outlet The National (Abu Dhabi), U.S. officials confirmed that they had conducted an operation following an attack on U.S. forces in western Iraq.[6]

According to the unnamed official cited in the report, U.S. forces "responded in self-defense against those who carried out the strike" on Ain Al-Assad early Tuesday.

The Iran-backed umbrella group Islamic Resistance of Iraq claimed responsibility for the attack earlier on November 21.[7]

Iraqi Security

According to Iraqi security officials and media reports cited by The National, an uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV or drone) struck a pick-up truck belonging to an Iran-backed Shi'ite militia while traveling on a highway in Abu Ghraib, a western suburb of Baghdad.

This was the first acknowledged, kinetic attack by the U.S. since Iran-backed forces ramped up operations against U.S. personnel in the region following Hamas's October 7 attack on Israel, noted the Emirati newspaper. Previous U.S. strikes were confined to Syria.

[1] Telegram, November 21, 2023.

[2] Telegram, November 21, 2023.

[3] Telegram, November 21, 2023.

[4] Telegram, November 21, 2023.

[5] Telegram, November 21, 2023.

[6], November 21, 2023.

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