Baghdad, Washington: Raid on Kataib Hezbollah HQ was Strictly Iraqi
The debate is still ongoing among Iraqi popular and official circles over the security forces’ raid on headquarters of the pro-Iran Kataib Hezbollah faction in southern Baghdad.
The raid was carried out late on Thursday in the Dora district, in which 14 members were arrested, including an Iranian rockets expert.
Prime Minister Mutafa al-Kadhimi, in his capacity as commander of the armed forces, ordered the elite Counter Terrorism Service to carry out the operation.
It took place after a number of rocket attacks near the US embassy in Baghdad and other US military sites, Baghdad International Airport and joint camps for Iraq’s army and international coalition forces in recent weeks.
The operation and ensuing arrests were widely supported by the majority of the political forces and civil actors who have been complaining for years about the rising influence of armed factions.
Meanwhile, pro-Iranian factions and opposing forces questioned the need for the operation, alleging that it was carried out with the help and support of the United States and the anti-ISIS coalition, which it leads.
The claims were denied by Baghdad, Washington and the coalition.
Government spokesman Ahmed Mulla Talal affirmed that the operation was planned and implemented internally and without any foreign intervention.
In a tweet on Sunday, Talal stressed that the Dora raid was preemptive and aims at preserving the integrity of the state.
The operation was completely planned, implemented and supervised by Iraqis, the spokesman added, dismissing claims to the contrary as “baseless lies”.
The US embassy meanwhile, refuted remarks attributed to US Ambassador to Kuwait, Alina Romanowski, about the operation. The US mission in Kuwait slammed the remarks reported in Iraqi media as “malicious fabrications.”
“Ambassador Romanowski gave no such interview and the purported news originates from a website created to spread false information.”
Iraqi news websites and “electronic armies” funded by Tehran had claimed that Romanowski had stated that international coalition forces had taken part in the raid at the request of the Iraqi government.
The international coalition, itself, also denied the allegations.
Coalition spokesman Myles Caggins said in press statements on Sunday that the coalition forces in Iraq are under the Iraqi government’s protection.
The Iraqi government issues the decisions, without any intervention by the US or coalition forces, he stressed.