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Iraqi resistance groups won’t lay down arms until US troops withdraw, says PMU chief

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
In this file picture, members the Iraqi anti-terror Kata'ib Hezbollah movement wave their group’s flag during a parade in Baghdad, Iraq. (Photo by Reuters)

The chairman of Iraq’s anti-terror Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), known variously as Hashd al-Sha’abi, says resistance fighters will not lay down their arms and halt their operations until all American occupation troops beat a retreat from the Arab country.

“Armed resistance groups in Iraq have no problem in handing over all their weapons,” Falih al-Fayyadh said in an interview with Iraq's Al Sharqiya satellite television network on Friday evening.

“But this will not happen until the next Iraqi government is formed, and all US forces pull out of the country.”

Fayyadh stressed that Hashd al-Sha’abi had previously agreed to a request from an influential Shia cleric and leader of the Sadrist Movement, Muqtada al-Sadr, to take illegal arms out of the hands of armed groups within a few months.

The PMU chief went on to assert that resistance groups have no connection with the Iraqi government or the Hashd al-Sha’abi and that the Coordination Committee of the Iraqi Resistance serves as a “spiritual body” with “no interference” between the activities of the PMU and Iraqi resistance groups.

“It is possible that there are individual similarities between the forces of Hashd al-Sha’abi and the forces of resistance, but there is no direct connection between them,” the former Iraqi National Security Council advisor remarked.

“Hashd Sha’abi has issued statements in the past declaring that it has no connection with any operation carried out by the resistance groups,” he hastened to add.

Anti-American sentiments have gained considerable momentum in Iraq over the US military and political adventurism in the region, in particular since the assassination of Iran’s top anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, and his associates in a US drone strike in Iraq in early 2020.

General Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), were martyred along with their associates in a US drone strike that was authorized by then-president Donald Trump near the Baghdad International Airport on January 3, 2020.

The two iconic anti-terror commanders are greatly admired for their instrumental role in fighting and decimating the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in the region, particularly in Iraq and Syria.

Two days after the dastardly attack shook the region, Iraqi lawmakers unanimously approved a bill that required the government to end the presence of all US-led foreign military forces in the Arab country.

Less than a week after the assassination, the IRGC launched a volley of ballistic missiles at the Ain al-Asad airbase in western Iraq, in a military operation codenamed Operation Martyr Soleimani.

Iran, which vowed ‘hard revenge’ over the killing of its celebrated commander, said the missile strike was only a “first slap” in exacting the revenge and that it would not rest until the US military abandons the region in disgrace.

Owing to Baghdad’s reluctance to expel the foreign forces within a stipulated timeframe, the US-led coalition convoys in Iraq have often been targeted by the resistance groups.

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