On October 8, 2023, several Telegram channels affiliated with jihadis and with Iran-backed militias in Iraq shared commentary following U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin's show of force in support of Israel by sending multiple ships and aircraft closer to Israel. The outlets argued that any direct involvement of U.S. forces makes U.S. interests in the region a "legitimate target" for the Iran-led axis of resistance, and that the U.S. announcement is but an attempt to cheer the "defeated side."
The previous day, October 7, 2023, Hamas had launched "Operation Al-Aqsa Flood," a surprise attack on Israel in the early morning of a major Jewish holiday. As part of the attack, the Gaza-based terrorist group fired thousands of rockets into Israel and dispatched militants into Israeli towns near the Gaza Strip.
The following report reviews initial statements about the events issued by leaders of Iran-backed militias in Iraq.
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Sayyid Al-Shuhada' Brigades: U.S. Direct Involvement Would Make U.S. Presence "Legitimate Target," Eliminate All Red Lines
The official Telegram channel of the secretary-general of the Iran-backed Shi'ite militia Sayyid Al-Shuhada Battalions published a statement by the militia's Jihadi Council. The statement said that Palestine is not Ukraine, and that if the U.S. intervenes directly in the ongoing developments, as part of its "attempt to stabilize the crumbling entity," the U.S. presence in the region and its facilities and personnel "will become legitimate targets for the axis of resistance."
"Each [U.S.] strike will be met with 10 strikes. On that day, there will be no red lines to be observed," it concluded.
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