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Pro-Iranian militias in Iraq claim attack on 'US vehicles'


An Iraqi soldier wears a protective face mask and gloves, following the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), as he stands guard during the hand over of Qayyarah Airfield West from US-led coalition forces to Iraqi Security Forces, in the south of Mosul, Iraq March 26, 2020
(photo credit: THAIER AL-SUDANI/REUTERS)

The attack underpins the uncertainty in Iraq and increasing pressure on the US to leave the count

On Saturday night, a video of several trucks burning allegedly showed an attack on a convoy transporting vehicles for a US base. Announced on social media with ties to pro-Iranian militias, the attack supposedly targeted Americans in Iraq, or at least was meant to. It is part of the wider campaign to try to intimidate and threaten the US to leave Iraq. It is not the first time a convoy was targeted, in February a supply convoy was also attacked.
Fars News in Iran reported the attack with photos, saying it happened in Diwaniyah province. A security source said an armed group set fire to three US vehicles being moved by truck. The fire services put out the fire and the Iraqi Ministry of Defense came to investigate. US helicopters were also reported to be in the vicinity. Injured people, apparently civilians, were brought to hospital nearby. The Iranian reports said the convoy was “from Basra” and heading to a base. The destination was “unknown.” A group called “Sayara Thora Al-Ashrin” or “Saraya Ashreen Thani” claimed responsibility. The same group’s name can be spelled Saraya Thorat al-Ashrin. In recent months a number of new pro-Iranian groups have popped up claiming attacks on the US, apparently part of a plan to distance these “rogue” elements from the official government paramilitary forces that includes elements of Kataib Hezbollah and pro-Iran militias.These groups have names like Usbat al-Thaireen Ashab al-Kahaf or Saraya Shuhada Thawar Ashreen al-Thani.
The attack underpins the uncertainty in Iraq and increasing pressure on the US to leave the country. Diwaniyah is on a road that leads from southern Iraq towards Baghdad. If one wants to transport Humvees and vehicles from US bases in Kuwait, they might drive this route on nearby Route 1. Al-Mayadeen and other media in the region that lean towards Iran, reported the incident.
A group called Saraya Thurat Al-Ashrin also claimed it had carried out a similar attack in June. Some of the images from the alleged July 11 attack were older video and images, so it was not clear the extent of the attack or if it happened at all. What is important is not necessarily if it happened or who was in the vehicles but rather the attempt to create an atmosphere of attacks, pushed by pro-Iranian media, to pave the way for larger real attacks, such as the dozens of rockets fired at US bases in Iraq over the last year. The creation of new groups that claim to target the US is also part of this pattern, whether or not these groups really exist or are just a rebranding of existing cells from Kataib Hezbollah or other groups. 

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