Iraqi Intelligence Denies Involvement in Soleimani's Assassination

Burning debris are seen on a road near Baghdad International Airport, which according to Iraqi paramilitary groups were caused by three rockets hitting the airport in Iraq (Reuters)
Burning debris are seen on a road near Baghdad International Airport, which according to Iraqi paramilitary groups were caused by three rockets hitting the airport in Iraq (Reuters)
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Iraqi Intelligence Denies Involvement in Soleimani's Assassination

Burning debris are seen on a road near Baghdad International Airport, which according to Iraqi paramilitary groups were caused by three rockets hitting the airport in Iraq (Reuters)
Burning debris are seen on a road near Baghdad International Airport, which according to Iraqi paramilitary groups were caused by three rockets hitting the airport in Iraq (Reuters)

Iraq’s Intelligence Service (IIS) said its chief Mustafa al-Kazemi was not involved in the assassination of Iran’s chief of al-Quds Force Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi Vice President of Popular Mobilization Forces Abu Mahdi al-Mohandis.

This came in response to earlier allegations by the top commander of Iraq’s Hezbollah Brigades, Abu Ali al-Askari, who claimed that Kazemi assisted the US in bombing the convoy carrying Soleimani and Mohandis, which led to their death along with others near Baghdad airport in January.

Askari tweeted that Kazemi’s name has been suggested as a candidate for the premiership, knowing that he had helped the US to carry out Soleimani's assassination. He described Kazemi’s candidacy as a “declaration of war on the Iraqi people.”

IIS issued a statement saying that some statements circulating on media “offend al-Kazemi and are an explicit threat to civil peace.”

The statement added that the accusations were “groundless” and the missions of the agency are centered on serving the Iraqi nation and its citizens, and are not affected by political affiliations or false accusations aimed at harming Iraq and its security services.

The services called for prosecuting "those use freedom of opinion to promote false accusations that harm Iraq.”

IIS pledged to defend Iraq within the scope of its constitutional duties, saying these duties are determined by the interests of the state, not the emotions and accusations of outlaws.

It asserted that it refuses to be dragged into political issues because it represents the state, not a certain group or party.

Last Wednesday, US State Department has designated Ahmad al-Hamidawi, Secretary-General of Hezbollah Brigades, as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT), seeking to deny him the resources to plan and carry out terrorist attacks.

Counterterrorism Coordinator Nathan Sales said the Brigades continue to present a significant terrorist threat to US forces in Iraq as well as the Iraqi people, adding that the US will intensify its pressure on it.

Earlier, Washington accused Hezbollah Brigades of killing a US contractor who was working at a military base in Kirkuk governorate last December.

US fighters in al-Anbar have bombed Hezbollah Brigades several times killing a number of their elements.

Hezbollah Brigades is one of the most well-equipped pro-Iranian factions compared to other Iraqi state factions. It operates with a high degree of secrecy in Iraq.



Netanyahu Says Israel Winding Down Gaza Operations. A Lebanon War Could be Next

FILE - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a news conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Oct. 28, 2023. (Abir Sultan/Pool Photo via AP, File)
FILE - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a news conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Oct. 28, 2023. (Abir Sultan/Pool Photo via AP, File)
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Netanyahu Says Israel Winding Down Gaza Operations. A Lebanon War Could be Next

FILE - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a news conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Oct. 28, 2023. (Abir Sultan/Pool Photo via AP, File)
FILE - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a news conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Oct. 28, 2023. (Abir Sultan/Pool Photo via AP, File)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that the current phase of fighting against Hamas in Gaza is winding down, setting the stage for Israel to send more troops to its northern border to confront Hezbollah.
The Israeli leader said in a lengthy TV interview that while the army is close to completing its current ground offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, that would not mean the war against Hamas is over. But he said fewer troops would be needed in Gaza, freeing up forces to battle Hezbollah.

“We will have the possibility of transferring some of our forces north, and we will do that,” he told Israel’s Channel 14, a pro-Netanyahu TV channel, in an interview that was frequently interrupted by applause from the studio audience. “First and foremost, for defense,” he added, but also to allow tens of thousands of displaced Israelis to return home.

Netanyahu said he hoped a diplomatic solution to the crisis could be found but vowed to solve the problem “in a different way” if needed. ″We can fight on several fronts and we are prepared to do that,” he said.
He said any deal would not just be “an agreement on paper.” He said it would require Hezbollah to be far from the border, an enforcement mechanism and the return of Israelis back to their homes. Tens of thousands of people were evacuated shortly after the fighting erupted and have not been able to go home.

Hezbollah has said it will continue battling Israel until a cease-fire is reached in Gaza. The group’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, warned Israel last week against launching a war, saying Hezbollah has new weapons and intelligence capabilities that could help it target more critical positions deeper inside Israel.