Alaa Abboud, the spokesman for the Peace Brigades, the armed faction of the Sadrist movement, said in a TV interview with a local Iraqi channel July 20, “We will target the US forces anywhere they are in Iraq. We are not only keen on targeting them, but thirsty for their blood.”
This followed threats by the head of the Sadrist movement, Muqtada al-Sadr, July 17 to target US military troops that are allegedly to be sent to Iraq soon to take part in the battle to liberate Mosul. Sadr, who fought a fierce battle against US forces in 2003 in the city of Najaf in southern Iraq, continues to believe that US military personnel should be targeted by his armed groups.
The Shiite cleric’s threats came following the visit of US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter to Iraq on July 11. Carter said, “We are pleased to tell you today that [the Pentagon] has agreed to send 560 more troops to Iraq to provide critical support to Iraqi forces, in terms of infrastructure and logistic capabilities in the Qayyarah military airport.”
Before Carter’s announcement on sending more US troops to Iraq, Sadr had hinted in a TV interview July 6 about his intention to target the US Embassy in Iraq by saying, “The [US] embassy has harassed us before and now it is our time to harass it.”
Today, Sadr has a force within the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) known by the name of the Peace Brigades, which he said were ready to target US forces anywhere in the country. This places the Iraqi government in an awkward position with its US ally, which has been supporting the war against terrorism and signed the Strategic Framework Agreement with Iraq.