Robert HARNEIS -TDO-(France)- Iraq’s largest resistance groups have released a joint statement calling the US military “occupation forces” that “respect the language of force only”. In the statement, 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 added that recent attacks on US forces and facilities in Iraq were only a “minor response” to the US aggression and the decision to carry out full-scale attacks was not yet taken.

Two days earlier, on April 2, Usbat al-Tha’ireen, the armed group that claimed responsibility for rocket strikes on Camp Taji and other US positions, released a 3-minute long drone footage of the US embassy in Baghdad’s heavily-fortified Green Zone. This is the largest and most expensive embassy in the world.

The US Central Command officially confirmed deployment of Patriot air defense systems in Iraq. However, the US military announced that it will not be “providing status updates as those systems come online” for security reasons. At least two Patriot batteries are now located at the US military bases of Ayn al-Assad and Erbil. Two more Patriot batteries will reportedly be deployed soon.

As part of its plan to redeploy forces to larger, more fortified bases, the US has evacuated its troops from the al-Taqaddum Air Base in the province of al-Anbar. It was the fourth US military facility abandoned in Iraq within the last few weeks. The previous ones were located in al-Qaim, Kirkuk and al-Qayyarah.

Iraqi sources say that the US actions demonstrate that Washington is preparing for a new round of military confrontation with Iran and its allies in the region. Recently, President Donald Trump stated that the US was expecting attacks by Iranian-led forces on US troops and facilities, claiming that Iran will ‘pay price’ for this. Following the statement, Iran deployed additional anti-ship missiles and multiple rocket launchers on the Qeshm Island in the Strait of Hormuz.

Trump’s statements reflect his electoral priorities. He cannot afford to look weak or admit that the majority of Iraqis regard the US as occupiers and want them to leave.  He also needs to keep following the Israeli agenda. His sole focus is re-election in November. Whilst Iran too wants to see the US leave, they are in no hurry and the pin prick attacks are almost certainly local in origin and inspiration. That will not stop Trump and Secretary of State Pompeo blaming Iran.

The release of drone film of the US embassy in the Green Zone, on the internet by anti US Iraqi militias, is a warning as to just how bad things could get for the US occupiers.  Many of the facilities in the Green Zone were turned over to the Iraqi government. But it is still a base for western private military contractors, and home to the U.S., British, Australian and Egyptian embassies. The permanent U.S. embassy is located in the southern part of the International or "Green" Zone overlooking the Tigris River.

The reduction in the number of bases and the introduction of Patriot missiles is a move to reduce the target available to hostile forces and make them easier to defend.

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