Alwaght- Qais al-Khazali, a senior commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), vowed to take their own revenge on the US regime for assassination of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis the second-in-command of the PMF, warning the reaction will be “no less than in size” than Iran’s missile strikes on two American bases in Iraq.
Qais al-Khazali, the leader of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq movement, a subdivision the PMF, took to Twitter on Wednesday to vow vengeance for the blood of the resistance group’s second-in-command, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who was assassinated in a US drone strike on Friday along with senior Iranian commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani and their companions in Baghdad.
“The initial Iranian response to the assassination of the martyred commander Soleimani has happened. Now it is time for the initial response to the assassination of martyred commander Muhandis,” he tweeted.
Khazali noted that Iraq’s response will match the strikes carried out by Iran in scale and proportion.
“And because Iraqis are brave and zealous, their response will not be less than that of Iran’s. That is a promise,” Khazali said.
Iran launched ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases used by American forces early Wednesday in retaliation for last week’s bloody drone raids.
Before Iran’s attack, al-Khazali in a statement said “We want nothing less than the expulsion of all the forces of US aggression from the pure land of Iraq.”
He added that his forces would fulfill the “hopes and wishes” to which late general Soleimani dedicated his life by “cleansing of the land of Palestine in its entirety” by “erasing the plundering Israeli entity from existence.”
Moreover, Sayyed Mahdi Tabtaei, deputy secretary-general of Asaib Ahl al-Haq, told Iraq’s Arabic-language al-Ahd news website that the Americans had thought that by assassinating General Soleimani, the Iranian and Iraqi peoples would forget him, but that they were wrong and that his martyrdom had, in fact, served to unify the two nations.
The Iraqi official said, “We will not simply settle for the expulsion of US forces, but also demand sanctions on all American goods and closure of the American Embassy.”
Tabtaei, meanwhile, cited Ayatollah Khamenei as saying, “Our response will be decisive,” adding, “The response will be delivered by the Islamic Republic, resistance groups, and PMF.”
Reactions to Iran’s Retaliation Operation
Beijing urged the United States and Iran to exercise restraint and resolve their dispute via dialog.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang reiterated a call for a peaceful resolution of the conflict during the daily briefing on Wednesday.
Earlier, China criticized the United States for aggravating tensions in the Middle East through its use of force in the standoff with Tehran.
An editorial on Tuesday in the government-run China Daily blamed the US for creating a “cauldron of tensions” in the region.
Iraq’s Kurdistan Region
“In regards to the recent events, and in particular this morning’s, the Kurdistan Region reiterates that military solution will in no way solve the problems,” they said in a statement.
“The Kurdistan Region supports de-escalation of the situation and seeks dialogue and diplomatic solution to the problems. It also seeks stability and peace and urges all parties to refrain from dragging the Kurdistan Region into the rivalries.”
United Arab Emirates Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash took to Twitter to underline the need for de-escalation in the region.
Separately, Emirati Energy Minister Suhail al-Mazroui said he did not expect a war to break out after the missile attacks.
“We will not see a war,” he said at a conference in Abu Dhabi. “This is definitely an escalation between the United States, which is an ally, and Iran, which is a neighbor, and the last thing we want is more tension in the Middle East.”
Japanese Chief Cabinet spokesman Yoshihide Suga said the government would “coordinate with the related governments to collect intelligence while we ensure the safety of Japanese citizens in the region.”
“Japan will also urge all related nations to do their utmost diplomatic effort to improve the relations,” he added.
Spain has pulled out some of its troops from Iraq due to security concerns, acting Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo said.
“Those who were in riskier positions have left for Kuwait,” Calvo told state broadcaster RTVE. “There is only a reduced number left there.”
The decision comes as NATO announced it would move some of its military training personnel out of Iraq amid fears of a regional conflagration.
Josep Borrell High Representative of the European Union urged all parties involved in the growing tensions to eschew more military action.
“The latest rocket attack on airbases in Iraq used by US and coalition forces, among them European, is yet another example of escalation and increased confrontation. It is in no one’s interest to turn up the spiral of violence even further,” he said.
Borrell has invited Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif to Brussels for talks.
No Polish troops stationed in Iraq were hurt, Poland’s Defense Minister said.
“None of the Polish soldiers in Iraq were hurt in rocket attacks on al-Asad and Erbil bases. We are in constant contact with the commander of the Polish Military Contingent in Iraq,” Mariusz Blaszczak wrote on Twitter.
New Zealand’s Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters, expressed concern over the escalation of tensions between the US and Iran.
“Now is the time for restraint and de-escalation, and for diplomacy to take over….the government has been informed that all New Zealand personnel are as safe as they can be in these developing circumstances,” he said.
The Philippines ordered a mandatory evacuation of its citizens from Iraq.
“The Alert Level in the entire Iraq has been raised to Alert Level 4 calling for mandatory evacuation,” said Eduardo Mendez, a spokesman for the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs.
Bernard Olalia, head of the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency, later said the Filipinos in Iran and Lebanon had also been told to leave.
Filipino Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said two battalions of troops and marines would be sent to Iraq to help with the evacuation.
“The two battalions will not be there to engage in combat, but to facilitate or help assist in the repatriation, especially in Iraq. They will not be there to fight… but they must be able to defend themselves,” he said.
South Korean Foreign Ministry said it held a meeting of its officials to discuss measures to cope with the Middle East tensions and ensure the safety of it nationals living or staying there.
A ministry official said it was not considering South Koreans’ withdrawal from Iraq.
“We are not at the stage where we would consider a withdrawal (of South Koreans) as for now,” the official said. “We’re closely monitoring the situation and will devise measures stage by stage in consideration of various possibilities.”