July 3, 2024 Special Dispatch No. 11431

Iran-Backed Shi'ite Militias In Iraq Threaten To Attack U.S. Interests In Region If Israel Expands War Against Hizbullah

July 3, 2024
Iran, Iraq, Lebanon | Special Dispatch No. 11431

Amid the tension between Hizbullah and Israel, which has been growing in recent weeks, and amid the mutual threats they are exchanging to expand the scope of the war, the Iran-backed Shi'ite militias in Iraq are threatening that, if this happens, they will renew their attacks on U.S. interests in Iraq, Syria and throughout the region. It should be recalled that, in late January, the militias were compelled to suspend their attacks on U.S. interests – which were ostensibly carried out as part of their support for Hamas – due to America's retaliatory  attacks against them and apparently also in response to pressure inside Iraq.[1] 

In addition, the militias have expressed their willingness to aid Hizbullah in various ways, including by dispatching soldiers and arms to South Lebanon to help in the fight against Israel, and by escalating their drone and missile attacks against Israel.

The London-based Qatari daily Al-Arabi Al-Jadid reported today (July 3, 2024) that, in meetings they held over the weekend in Syria and Lebanon, militia officials agreed to compile "a list of U.S. targets" in Iraq and Syria that will be attacked if Israel carries out its threat to escalate the war in Lebanon. An official of the Shi'ite Iraqi Al-Nujaba militia clarified that, in such a situation, America's interests in the region "will not be safe."

Opposition websites in Syria have indeed reported in recent weeks that the militias continue to bring weapons, including missiles and drones, to their positions in eastern Syria, which are close to areas under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces where U.S. troops are stationed.

While these threats may be intended to prevent Israel from escalating its operations against Hizbullah, it is also possible that the militias intend to use any escalation in Lebanon  as an excuse to renew and intensify their attacks against the U.S. forces in Iraq, in order to force it to pull its troops from the country. Indeed, in the recent weeks the militias have threatened to renew the attacks if the negotiations between the Iraqi government and the U.S. about the presence of the American troops in the country does not yield results to their satisfaction.[2]  

This report reviews the threats of the Shi'ite Iraqi militias to attack U.S. interests in the region if the war against Hizbullah intensifies.

Iraqi Militias: If War Against Hizbullah Expands, We Will Attack U.S. Targets In Region

As stated, the Qatari Al-Arabi Al-Jadid daily reports, citing "several knowledgeable Iraqi sources," that representatives of several Iraqi militias held meetings on June 27-30 in Damascus and Lebanon, in which they agreed that, if Israel launches a wide-scale offensive against Lebanon, on the ground or from the air, they will act jointly against U.S. targets and also against targets in "the occupied Palestinian territories" (i.e., in Israel). They also agreed to compile a list of American targets in Iraq and Syria that will be "the first to be attacked" if Israel launches such an offensive.

According to the report, the Hizbullah Brigades, Al-Nujaba, Ansar Allah Al-Awfiya and other Iraqi factions active in Syria will all take part in "direct efforts along with the Lebanese Hizbullah." A source close to the Hizbullah Brigades told the daily that "everything is ready, including missiles, attack drones and heat-seeking missiles for use against tanks and against armored vehicles." The source added that one of the meetings, on June 28, was attended by an official of the Lebanese Hizbullah, who said that his movement's "preparations for an Israeli attack are complete." 

Firas Al-Yasser, a member of Al-Nujaba's political bureau, said that "if the Zionist entity attacks Lebanon, the American interests in Syria and Iraq will be targets for the Iraqi resistance." The Iraqi factions, he added, "are taking into account that the U.S. will respond," but nevertheless  "there will be no ceasefire or lull if there is an Israeli war against Lebanon and Washington aids it with weapons or grants it political or propaganda support.  The coordination between all the factions of the resistance axis in Syria and Lebanon has been completed," he clarified, "especially in light of the agreement on uniting the fronts. There is a joint war room of all the [resistance] axis factions in the region, and there are meetings among the factions and among their commanders." 

A Hizbullah Brigades military commander likewise told the daily that "representatives of the Iraqi factions – mainly of the Hizbullah Brigades, the Sayyid Al-Shuhada Brigades, the Al-Nujaba movement and the Ansar Allah Al-Awfiya movement – have met  with the other factions in Syria and Lebanon and established a joint war room in preparation for any possible development in the Lebanese arena. The joint attacks [against Israel] carried out by the Iraqi and the Houthi factions," he added, "are a result of this joint war room, and the factions are coordinating on strikes and positions. They continue to hold meetings, usually in Syria, while taking precautions to avoid being attacked."[3] 

Iraqi Resistance Coordination Committee: American Interests In Iraq And Region Will Be Legitimate Targets

In a June 30 statement, the Coordination Committee of the Iraqi Resistance said that, "in light of the Zionist-American threats to declare total war on Lebanon and its courageous resistance," the committee warns that, if these threats are actualized, "the interests of the criminal American enemy in Iraq and the entire region will be legitimate targets for the members of the resistance."[4]  Al-Nujaba official Firas Al-Yasser told Al-Arabi Al-Jadid that this statement had been issued following "coordination meetings between all the factions in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen."[5]

Secretary-General Of Asaeb Ahl Al-Haqq Movement, Which Is Part Of Iraqi Government: If U.S. Aids An Israeli War Against Hizbullah, All Its Interests In Region Will Be In Danger

In a June 24 speech on the occasion of Eid Al-Ghadir,  Qays Al-Khaz'ali, the secretary-general of the  Asaeb Ahl Al-Haqq movement, warned that if Israel expands its operations and attacks Hizbullah and Lebanon, and the U.S. continues to support it, the U.S. should know that all its interests in the region, especially in Iraq, will become targets and be in danger.[6]  

On June 25, the Iran-backed faction Ashab Al-Kahf, which has claimed responsibility for past attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq, likewise warned that any Israeli attack on Lebanon with U.S. approval "will be met with attacks on all American and Israeli interests in Iraq and the region."[7]

Militias Continue To Bring Weapons Into Areas Under Their Control Near Concentrations Of U.S. Troops; Have Reportedly Managed To Down U.S. Drone

As mentioned, according to websites affiliated with the Syrian opposition, the Iran-backed militias continue to bring weapons into territories under their control in eastern Syria that border on areas where U.S. troops are present. The website reported on July 2 that eight trucks bearing weapons, including drones and anti-tank missiles, had entered eastern Syria from Iraq,[8] and on June 30 the website reported that 12 trucks bearing weapons and three busses carrying 150 fighters had arrived at the Al-Bukamal and Al-Mayadin areas.[9] On June 23 the website likewise reported on the arrival of three trucks, apparently carrying drones and missiles. It added that Hajj Askar, an officer of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) who is in charge of the militias in the Deir Al-Zor area, had ordered to enhance the readiness of the forces ahead of a possible military confrontation.[10]

According to other reports, in late May the militias deployed an Iranian radar system in Al-Bukamal and started building a drone storage facility in the area.[11]  A report from June 27 claimed that, for the first time, the militias have managed to down a U.S. drone with an anti-tank missile launched from a town under their control in eastern Deir Al-Zor.[12]


[3] Al-Arabi Al-Jadid (London), July 3, 2024.

[5] Al-Arabi Al-Jadid (London), July 3, 2024.

[8], July 2, 2024.

[9], June 30, 2024.

[10], June 23, 2024.

[11], July 1, 2024.

[12], June 27, 2024.

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