Iran-Backed Militias Halt Attacks on US Interests in Iraq - Report

Days after US Air Force used F-15 and F-16 fighter jets pounded bases hosting Iranian-backed militias in the border region between Iraq and Iran, the outfits have decided to halt attacks against the US interests in the region, according to reports.

The armed groups that have ratcheted up attacks on US installations and personnel in the last one year have decided to stop the attacks on condition that the US would 'return to a state of calm', sources told the Middle East Eye.

High-Profile Meeting in Baghdad

The decision came following a meeting of commanders from several armed groups in Baghdad on Monday.

Balad, Iraq
Balad Air Base is situated in northern Iraq and hosts US military personnel Google Maps

The US air strikes on Sunday, which came after explosives-laden drones were fired into the northern Iraqi city of Arbil, where the US has a consulate, had killed four militiamen.

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said the facilities targeted were used by Iran-backed militia groups that launched dozens of drone attacks targeting US interests in the region.

Several Attacks in the Last One Year

There have been more than 40 attacks against locations that host US soldiers in Iraq since the beginning of the year, even as the Iranian-backed militia groups pressed for a full scaling back of US soldiers from Iraq. The US still hosts more than 2,500 soldiers in the region as part of the fight against the battered down factions of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria that are still active in the region.

Map of US airbases in Iraq
Map of US airbases in Iraq Wikimedia Commons

In Monday's meeting, the militia commanders agreed to "activate a truce with the US forces, provided the Americans remain calm", MEE said. The meeting was held under the aegis of the Iraqi Popular Mobilisation Authority (PMA).

Pro-Iranian militia groups had shelled areas in Syria's Deir ez-Zor after the US air strikes on Sunday. However, it appears that there was consensus in the meeting that there would be no further acts of retaliation.

The commanders were "satisfied with the attack in response to the American raid" and were willing to go for an unofficial truce, the report added.

Four Fighters Die in US Air Strike

Though the Pentagon had not initially confirmed casualties, the PMA said four fighters were killed in the air strike on Iraq-Syria border. "One of the raids targeted a house used by the fighters of the 14th Brigade (KSS) inside Iraq's border. The strike was devastating. Two of the fighters had their remains collected, while the bodies of the other two were found intact," the commander said, according to MEE.

"As for the other two raids, they targeted two positions stationed by Kataib Hezbollah inside Syrian territory. For an unknown reason, the brigades had evacuated these two points hours before the strike, and their fighters gathered about 500 metres away. "Eight of the fighters were lightly wounded as a result of the storm left by the strike and not as a result of direct fire."

Black skies of Mosul captured through lens (PHOTOS)
rmed members of Shi'ite militia Hashid Shaabi ride a motorbike near Qayyara, south of Mosul. Smoke in the background is from burning oilfields set ablazed by Islamic State fighters. Reuters

In March this year, Iran-linked militant factions fired as many as seven rockets into an Iraqi airbase that houses US troops

In February, shadowy terror outfit named 'Awliyaa al-Dam, or 'Guardians of Blood', attacked foreign troops stationed in Iraq's Irbil with rocket fire, killing at least one personnel and injuring five more.

In the same month, the US military launched airstrikes against Iran-backed targets in eastern Syria.

In early April, two rockets landed near an Iraqi military air base in Salahudin province north of capital Baghdad, which houses some US experts and advisers.

In January last year, Iran fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two United States military bases in Iraq.