Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

US Suspects 2 Iran Proxies in Baghdad Embassy Attack

US Suspects 2 Iran Proxies in Baghdad Embassy Attack

Sunday, 26 May, 2019 - 05:15
Iraqi security forces gather at a checkpoint into the Green Zone in Baghdad, Iraq December 10, 2018. (Reuters)

Iranian proxies in Iraq have not claimed responsibility for the attack against the US embassy in Baghdad a week ago despite Washington’s accusation that Tehran was behind the incident.

A senior security official told Asharq Al-Awsat that the US suspects the Sayyed of Martyrs Battalions and Imam Ali Battalions. He revealed that Iraqi authorities have been informed of these suspicions.

Moreover, they informed them that the US may resort to arresting members of those factions in Iraq should evidence prove their involvement in the embassy attack.

The source explained that armed groups in Iraq are split between those that oppose Iran and refuse to have Iraq turn into an arena for the American-Iranian conflict. They include cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s Peace Brigades.

On the other side of the divide lie factions that enjoy close ties with Tehran, such as the Badr Organization and Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq. Despite their loyalty to Iran, these groups have yet to intervene in the ongoing clash between Washington and Tehran.

A third camp also exists. These factions are not represented at parliament and may join the fray on Iran’s side at any moment, said the source.

Commenting on the pro-Iran groups’ silence amid the mounting American-Iranian tensions, armed groups expert Hisham al-Hashemi told Asharq Al-Awsat the silence is good for Iraq because it will not drag it into a war from which it has nothing to gain.

On May 19, a rocket was fired into Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, which houses government buildings and diplomatic missions, falling near the US Embassy but causing no casualties, the Iraqi military said.

The attack came two weeks after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Iraqi leaders during a surprise visit to Baghdad that if they failed to keep in check Iran-backed militias, the United States would respond with force.

US President Donald Trump has tightened economic sanctions against Iran, and his administration says it has built up the US military presence in the region. It accuses Iran of threats to US troops and interests.

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