Pentagon orders preparations to ‘destroy’ pro-Iran Kata’ib Hezbollah in Iraq: Report

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The US Department of Defense has ordered its military commanders in Iraq to prepare for potential operations to destroy the pro-Iranian Kata’ib Hezbollah militia group, according to sources who spoke to the New York Times.

According to the report, several unnamed officials said top US commander in Iraq Lt. Gen. Robert P. White wrote a memo in which he advised the Pentagon against such plans, saying that it would divert resources from fighting ISIS and risk jeopardizing current deals with the Iraqi government that allow US troops to operate in the country.

The report about the supposed Pentagon orders comes more than a week after the US-led coalition said it would redeploy hundreds of troops in Iraq to new bases in the country or to bases in different countries, according to coalition and US officials, with one calling it a “historic” move.

Kata’ib Hezbollah is a hardline pro-Iran faction within the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) militias. In January, the Iraqi parliament voted to oust all foreign forces from the country after a US drone strike in Baghdad killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and the PMU militia’s deputy chief, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

Read more: Iraq envoy to UN threatens arrest of US troops for attacks on pro-Iran militias

Since then, there has been an escalation in tensions between the US and pro-Iranian militias in the region, especially in Iraq.

Earlier this month, at least 18 Katyusha rockets were fired at a military camp Taji in Iraq, killing one 26-year-old British soldier and two American personnel. The Pentagon blamed Kata’ib Hezbollah for the attack.

Read more: US-led forces leave Iraqi military base near Mosul in drawdown