What he might have heard was the sound of seven 500-pound bombs violently attacking near the border. According to the Pentagon, the compound was used by two Iranian-affiliated Iraqi militias, Qataib Hezbollah and Qataib Said Shuhada.
The front and back satellite images released by the space technology company Maxar Technologies vividly show how much damage these bombs have caused.
The “before” image shows a compound, only one kilometer (about 370 yards) from the Iraqi border, with about twelve buildings of various sizes. In the “after” image, almost all the buildings were destroyed, and the dirt around the compound in the explosion turned black.
It is not clear how many militiamen were killed. Qataib Hezbollah only recognized one deceased, but did not specify where he died on the Iraq-Syrian border. An American official said that “only a very small number of people”
The Pentagon stated that the strike was intended as a response to the recent series of rocket and mortar attacks against the combined US and Iraqi positions. On February 15, a series of rockets fell on the ground and urban residential areas of Erbil International Airport, killing a contractor and wounding several American personnel and Iraqi civilians. The Green Zone in Baghdad, where the U.S. Embassy is located, has been the target of mortar and rocket fire. Qataib Hezbollah has repeatedly denied any involvement in these attacks, and again denied it in a statement issued on Friday.
Pentagon officials told CNN that the compound it was targeting had nothing to do with these attacks, but Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said he was “confident” to use the same militias in rocket attacks against the US and Iraqi coalition forces. .
The armed groups Kata’ib Hezbollah and Kata’ib Sayyid Al-Shuhada, which allegedly used it, were only two of the many militias that were famous in the ISIS war against Syria and Iraq, filling the gap left by the Iraqi army and retreating completely. .
In 2015 and 2016, I spent a long time with some militiamen who fought north from Baghdad. Some organizations are well-organized and disciplined, while others are radical and turbulent.
Their commanders were never ashamed of the support they received from Iran.
“Yes, we announce to the world that we have an Iranian consultant.” Hadi Al-Amari, the senior commander of the pro-Iranian Iraqi Badr Brigade, was on the front line outside Tikrit in 2015. Tell me that the country was under ISIS control at the time. “We are proud of them, and we are deeply grateful for their participation.”
Nearby, I met an Iranian who was fatigued from fighting. He told me in broken Arabic that he was a volunteer.
At the time, a militia commander told me: “Compared with the 400 U.S. advisers in Baghdad’s greenfields, it is much better to have four Iranian advisers on the front line.”
Since then, the Iraqi militia, backed by Iran, has grown stronger, while the relationship between Washington and Tehran has deteriorated sharply.
Now, the United States is in trouble, hoping to show that it will not tolerate more attacks by Iranian-backed militias on its positions in Iraq, but at the same time it hopes to reopen dialogue with Iran. Sending this message without burning the bridge trying to build Tehran will not be an easy task.
Friday’s strike was the first known military action taken by the Biden administration, making it the seventh consecutive U.S. government using military power in the Middle East.
The government of Washington is here. The government in Washington went. However, some things will never change.