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Quds Force Commander Persuades Iranian Militias to Call Off US Attack

The day after a pro-Iranian armed group operating in Iraq attacked a US military facility in northeastern Jordan on January 28, the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force visited Baghdad and persuaded them to call off the attack. Multiple Iranian and Iraqi intelligence sources have confirmed that this led to Pictured is Quds Force Commander Ismail Ghaani. Photographed in April 2022 in Tehran. Provided photo (2024 Reuters/Majid Asgaripour/WANA)

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – The commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force visits Baghdad, a day after pro-Iranian militias operating in Iraq attacked U.S. military facilities in northeastern Jordan on January 28. Multiple Iranian and Iraqi intelligence sources have confirmed that this led to the cancellation of the attack.

Quds Force commander Ismail Ghaani met with several representatives of armed groups at Baghdad airport on the 29th. The attack comes less than 48 hours after the US government condemned armed groups after three US soldiers were killed in a drone attack on Tower 22, a US military facility in Jordan.

Ghaani pointed out that killing American soldiers could result in a fierce counterattack from the United States. He persuaded the militants to lay low to avoid attacking senior commanders, destroying critical infrastructure, or retaliating directly against Iran.

Although some factions initially did not accede to Mr. Ghaani’s demands, most others agreed.

The main group, the Party of God Brigades (Kataib Hezbollah), announced the next day that it was suspending its attacks.

There have been no attacks on US forces in Iraq or Syria since February 4th. There were more than 20 attacks on U.S. forces in the two weeks before Ghaani’s visit, amid a growing conflict over Israeli attacks on Gaza.

“Without Mr. Ghaani’s direct intervention, it would have been impossible to convince Kataib Hezbollah to suspend military operations to reduce tensions,” said a senior Iranian-affiliated Iraqi militant group official.

Although Ghaani’s visit has been mentioned in Iraqi media, the details of his message and its impact on reducing attacks have not been previously reported.

Reuters spoke to three Iranian government officials, one Iraqi security official, three Iraqi Shiite politicians, four sources from Iranian-backed Iraqi militias, and four diplomats with ties to Iraq. .

Iraq, one of the few countries allied with both Iran and the United States, has used carrots and sticks to force the withdrawal of US troops. Five intelligence sources said Iraq, which wants to prevent its country from becoming a battlefield for foreign forces again following the attack on US military facilities in Jordan, has asked Iran to curb the activities of its armed groups.

A politician from Iraq’s ruling party says the attack presented a golden opportunity for the Iraqi government. Talks between Iraq and the United States on ending the U.S. military presence resumed on February 6, after Mr. Ghaani persuaded Iraq and the United States to begin a lull in the attacks.

Several Iranian-linked groups active in Iraq also believe that dialogue is preferable to attack in order to end the US military presence.

Reuters Graphics

A senior Iranian security official said, “Although General Ghaani’s visit was successful, not all Iraqi groups agreed to de-escalation.” Nujaba, a small but very active group, said it would continue its attacks, saying the U.S. military could only be forced to withdraw by force.

It is unclear how long the suspension of attacks will last. Following the US military’s killing of a senior Kataib Hezbollah leader in Baghdad on the 7th, an umbrella group representing hard-line groups has declared a resumption of operations.See more

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2024-02-19 06:37:12

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