A debate surfaced in the Iraqi media on why the Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) did not warn its forces in Anbar province of an imminent U.S. airstrike after they had received a warning from Iraq's Prime Minister, Adel Abdul-Mahdi, on December 28, 2019.
In a televised meeting that aired on December 31, 2019, the Iraqi prime minister told his cabinet that he was informed of the airstrikes hours before in a phone call with U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, and that he had tried to warn the PMU.
Iraqi Media: Seek Revenge From The Prime Minister And The PMU
Hamid Al-Jazairi, the deputy commander of Saraya Al-Khorassani – a PMU force – acknowledged in a televised interview that aired on January 1, 2020, that the Iraqi prime minister did in fact warn the PMU.
Asked by the host of the 'Al-Furat Studio' why there was no evacuation of PMU fighters after Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi had warned them, the PMU leader replied that "there was little time left to inform them [the Hizbullah Brigades in Anbar] to evacuate."
(Source: Al-Forat TV)
An editorial titled "The Traitor Adel Abdul-Mahdi," which was published in the Iraqi daily Al-Al'am, holds the Iraqi prime minister and PMU leaders accountable for the deaths of the Hizbullah Brigades fighters that were killed during the U.S. airstrike.
In the editorial, the author, Ali Al-Shara', says: "I call on the families of the martyrs to seek their revenge, not only from America, but also from those who knew of the airstrike: Adel Abdul-Mahdi, the head of the Popular Mobilization Commission, his deputy, and leaders of the armed factions who attended the demonstration before the U.S Embassy in [Baghdad]."
Al-Shara' says that the Iraqi prime minister "received a call from the Americans hours – or a half an hour it does not matter – before the U.S. airstrike, but he did not warn the PMU" or "he did, but the head of PMU Commission, his deputy, and other leaders did not pass the warning to the field commanders" and "therefore they should be held accountable."
Al-Shara' alleges that the PMU "orchestrated" this crisis, including the attacks against U.S. forces, in order to divert attention from the anti-Iran protests in Iraq. "As we are now watching on satellite channels, attention has shifted from the protests, to the situation in front of the embassy."
(Source: Al-Al'am, Iraq)
The PMU Profited From The Spilled Blood Of Its Fighters
Sharing the same sentiment, Iraqi journalist Falah Al-Masha'al tweeted "What I cannot understand is if the Americans told the head of the government that they plan to strike hours ahead of the attack, why they [the PMU in Anbar] were not informed to evacuate, at least to avoid getting killed?"
Ridha Al-Shamari, another Iraqi journalist, addressed the PMU in a post on his Facebook page saying: "You did not tell your fighters to evacuate your camps when you knew that they were about to be bombed. You did that in order to profit from the [spilled] blood of your fighters."
Al-Shamari goes on to say that even though that PMU is well represented in the Iraqi Parliament, they do not use that platform to achieve their goal peacefully, and instead they resort to violence.
"As the largest bloc, you can legally expel them [the U.S. forces], and cut ties with the United States, but you did not, because you were hoping that a number of your fighters would be killed so you would profit from their [spilled] blood."
 Youtube.com/watch?v=UXxKhkMWE3I, January 1, 2020.
 Twitter.com/Falah_Almashal, December 30, 2019.
 Facebook.com/ridha.shammari.5, January 1, 2020.