Iran-backed militia staged drone attack on Iraqi Prime Minister – Civil servants

  • Iran-linked militias contest crushing election defeat
  • Attack can be warning not to marginalize them – officials
  • Current struggle with big vote winner Shia cleric Sadr
  • Many Iraqis fear tensions risk wider civil conflict
  • Iran probably hasn’t imposed sanctions attack, sources say

BAGHDAD, Nov. 8 (Reuters) – A drone attack die targeted the Iraqi prime minister on Sunday was worn out by at least one Iran-backed militias, Iraqi security officials and militia sources said weeks after pro-Iranian groups were ousted in elections that they say have been rigged.

But it is unlikely that the neighboring Islamic Republic has sanctioned the attack as Tehran likes avoid a spiral of violence on the western border, the sources and independent analysts said.

Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi escaped unharmed after three drones met explosives were launched in his home in Baghdad. Multiple of his bodyguards were injured.

The incident struck up tensions in Iraq, where? powerful Iran-backed paramilitaries dispute the result of An general election last month die inflicted a crushing defeat on them in the polls and huge reduced their strength in parliament.

Many Iraqis fear tensions under the main Shi’ite Muslim groups die dominate government and most state institutions, and also to boast over paramilitary branches, could lead to in a wide-ranging civil conflict if such incidents continue occur.

Baghdad’s streets were emptier and quieter than usual on Monday, and extra military and police checks in the capital seemed intention on keep a lid on tensions.

Iraqi officials and analysts said the attack was intended as a message from militias that they are willing to resort to violence if they are excluded from the formation of An government, of as their grip on large areas of the state apparatus is challenged.

“It was a clear message of, ‘We can create chaos’ in Iraq – we have the weapons, we have the resources,” said Hamdi Malik, a specialist on Iraqi Shia Muslim Militias in the Washington Institute.

new group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Iran-backed militias did not immediately do so comment and the Iranian government did not respond to requests for comment.

Two regional officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said Tehran had knowledge of the attack before it was worn out, but that the Iranian authorities had not ordered it.

Militia sources said the commander of Iranian Revolutionary Guard overseas Quds Force traveled to Iraq on sunday after the attack to meet and encourage paramilitary leaders avoid any further escalation of violence.

Two Iraqi security officials, in conversation met Reuters on Monday on condition of anonymity, the groups Kataib Hezbollah and Asaib Ahl al-Haq . said out the attack in tandem.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi speaks at a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (not pictured) at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany October 20, 2020. Stefanie Loos/Pool via REUTERS/File photo

A militia source said Kataib Hezbollah was involved and he couldn’t confirm the role of Asaib.

Neither group commented for the record.

INTRA-SHI’ITE TENSION

The main winner of the elections, the Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr is a rival of the Iranian-backed groups who, in unlike them, Iraqi preaches nationalism and opposes all foreign interference, including American and Iranian.

Malik said the drone strike indicated Iran-backed militias are positioning themselves in resistance to Sadr, who also boasts of a militia – a scenario that would damage Iran’s influence and therefore likely be opposed by Tehran.

“I don’t think Iran wants a Shia-Shia civil war. It would weaken its position.” in Iraq and allow other groups to get stronger,” he said.

A lot of met Iran-affiliated militias have Sadr’s political rise with worried, fearing he’d make a deal with Kadhimi and moderate Shia allies, and even minority Sunni Muslims and Kurds, die would freeze them out of power.

The Iranian-backed groups, die like Iran’s patron are Shiites, regard Kadhimi as both Sadr’s husband and kind to Tehran’s nemesis, the United States.

Iran-backed militias have shouted of fraud in the October 10 elections, but offered no proof. Since then, their supporters have been ramping up for weeks of protests in near Iraq government buildings.

MADE IN IRAN

An of the Iraqi security officials said the drones used were: of the type “quadcopter” and that each carried one projectile containing high explosives in stands of damage buildings and armored buildings vehicles.

The official added that this was of the same type of Iranian-made drones and explosives used in attacks this year on US troops in Iraq, which Washington blames on Iran-linked militias, including Kataib Hezbollah.

The United States last month focused on Iran’s drone program with new sanctions, saying Tehran’s elite Revolutionary Guards had deployed drones against US troops, regional allies of Washington and international Dispatch.

Report by the Baghdad editors; Editing by Mark Heinrich

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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