A prominent military expert warned that Washington is implementing a plot in Western al-Anbar province to replace Hashd al-Shaabi (popular forces) with its own soldiers.
Safa al-A’asam told the Arabic-language al-Ma’aloumeh news website on Sunday that a plan is being implemented by the US in collaboration with some political sides in Iraq so that the Hashd al-Shaabi forces withdraw from al-Qa’em and other parts of Western al-Anbar to deploy the American forces in those regions.
“The demands for the withdrawal of Hashd al-Shaabi forces from al-Qa’em and Western al-Anbar are aimed at creating a religious gap among Hashd al-Shaabi forces as it includes over 16 Sunni regiments stationed in those regions.
“The current political plan entails redeployment of the US forces in al-Qa’em and the adjacent areas under the pretext of security gaps and possible ISIL attacks after Hashd al-Shaabi’s withdrawal,” al-A’asam warned.
Security sources in Iraq said last week that the US fighter jets had conducted regular flights over the two provinces of Babel and al-Anbar to spy on Hashd al-Shaabi.
The US warplanes have been carrying out reconnaissance operations over Hashd al-Shaabi headquarters in Jarf al-Nasr region in the Southern parts of Faloujeh, North of Babel province, and other areas near al-Anbar province as well as al-Razazah region towards Karbala, the informed source who called for anonymity, told the Arabic-language al-Ma’aloumeh news website on Sunday.
He said that Hashd al-Shaabi forces have adopted strong security measures in all their bases to prepare for any possible surprise attacks by the US.
Early in April, Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), better known by their Arabic name Hashd al-Shaabi, in a statement blasted the US forces based in their country as "occupiers", pledging to bring the occupation of the Arab country to an end.
Hashd al-Shaabi groups said from now on the US troops in the Arab country will be dealt with as "occupation forces".
The statement cited the US refusal to withdraw its forces from Iraq and its “continued aggression” against the country as the reasons for their decision.
“You have proven to everyone that you are occupation forces and that you only respect the language of force; on these bases you will be dealt with as occupiers," the statement reads.
It also said that the Iraqi resistance forces' military operations are a basic response to the US aggression.
"Be aware that all operations which have been carried out against you so far were only a minor response to your aggressions as the decision to carry out operations [against US forces] had not been taken back then,” it added.
They stressed that the recent US threats to target the resistance forces are aimed at covering up their own failures.
The statement was signed by Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada, Kata’ib al-Imam Ali, Harakat al-Awfiy’a, Saraya Ashura, Harakat Jund al-Imam, and Saraya al-Khurasani.
In late March, the other PMU group Kata'ib Hezbollah blew the lid off a plot by the US military to carry out massive aerial operations — backed by ground troops – against bases of the elite anti-terror force, which is currently busy helping the government in the fight against a new coronavirus pandemic.
The PMU statement was concluded with a message to the Iraqi people, in which the resistance groups vowed that they will not let the US occupy the country and rob its resources.
The statement comes in line with earlier calls by the Iraqi Parliament and military for all foreign troops to leave the Arab country as soon as possible.
Iraqi lawmakers unanimously approved a bill on January 5, demanding the withdrawal of all foreign military forces led by the United States from the country following the assassination of Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, along with Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of the PMU, and their companions in a US airstrike authorized by US President Donald Trump near Baghdad International Airport two days earlier.