The US State Department on Monday designated Iraqi-based militia Harakat Ansar Allah al-Awfiya as a terrorist group. This is important because it shows the US continues to be focused on the threat of Iranian-backed militias in Iraq.

“The Department of State today designated Harakat Ansar Allah al-Awfiya (HAAA) and HAAA Secretary General Haydar Muzhir Ma’lak al-Sa’idi as Specially Designated Global Terrorists,” the State Department said.The group is an “Iraq-based Iran-aligned militia group and part of the ‘Islamic Resistance in Iraq (IRI),’” it said.

The IRI has often targeted Israel throughout the conflict with Hamas. This is one of the numerous Iranian proxies that have been attacking Israel, using drone threats and, more recently, the attempted use of cruise missiles. The IRI is an umbrella group for a large number of Iranian-backed militias in Iraq.

The State Department said the IRI is “a front group that includes multiple Iran-aligned terrorist and militia groups, including US-designated terrorist organizations Kata’ib Hizballah, Harakat al-Nujaba, and Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada, that have repeatedly attacked Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS forces in Iraq and Syria.”
Attacks on US forces

Kataib Hezbollah was responsible for the attack on US forces in Jordan in January that killed three US personnel. The Iranian-backed groups in Iraq carried out more than 100 attacks on US forces in Iraq and Syria from October through January. In recent months, it appears these groups have reduced their threats to US forces, but they have increased their threats to Israel.

HAAA was involved in the attack on US forces in Jordan, the State Department said, adding: “Additionally, HAAA has publicly threatened to continue attacking US interests in the region. HAAA has also terrorized the Iraqi people. The United States remains committed to using all available tools to counter Iran’s support for terrorism and to degrade and disrupt the ability of Iran-backed groups to conduct terrorist attacks.”

The wider story here is that the US has designated other groups within the IRI. Therefore, the US is now searching for more entities to target, such as HAAA.

This is important primarily for its symbolic aspect. It shows the US is still committed to going after the Iranian-backed militias in Iraq that have spread chaos in the region and threaten the US, Israel, and others.

The more important question is what comes next in Iraq? The Iranian-backed groups in Iraq have sought to increase their attacks on Israel. They frequently claim responsibility for drone attacks, but most of these do not seem to leave Iraqi airspace.

This leads to questions about whether Iran is deliberately starving these groups of resources or if the groups are simply inventing stories about their attacks. Nevertheless, the groups are continuing their attacks.

“Iraq’s Islamic Resistance has announced striking the city of Haifa in the northern part of the occupied territories with an advanced cruise missile in a fresh pro-Palestinian operation,” Iran’s Press TV reported Sunday. “The umbrella group of anti-terror fighters made the announcement on Saturday. It specified the projectile used in the operation as an ‘al-Aqrab’ missile.”

The groups also claimed responsibility for a cruise-missile attack in early May. The IDF said it intercepted a cruise missile heading toward Israel “from the East” on May 30. It was not clear if this was linked to the Iraqi groups.

Source » jpost