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The Kata’ib Hezbollah militia group, supported by Iran and implicated in the fatal attack on US forces in Jordan, declared on Tuesday its cessation of military activities in Iraq. This group, known for its targeting of American troops, claimed this decision was made in solidarity with the Palestinian cause during the ongoing conflict in Gaza, aiming to “avoid embarrassment for the Iraqi government,” as stated in their announcement on Iranian Telegram channels.
The group’s leader conveyed through the statement, “We will continue to defend our people in Gaza in other ways and advise the fighters of [Kata’ib] Hezbollah, the brave and free, to adopt passive defense… if any hostile American action occurs against them.” Despite this statement, the Pentagon has expressed skepticism towards the militia’s intentions.
Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, emphasized, “Actions speak louder than words,” indicating a disconnect between the group’s statements and their actions, especially given the recent attacks since January 28th attributed to them.
The Pentagon has yet to confirm the perpetrators behind the Sunday assault on Tower 22, a US base in Jordan, which led to three American soldiers’ deaths and injured more than 40 others. However, Pentagon deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh suggested that the attack has the “footprints” of Kata’ib Hezbollah, linking them to the incident indirectly.
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Kata’ib Hezbollah functions under the umbrella of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), an official component of Iraq’s security apparatus. The Iraqi Prime Minister, Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, known for his alignment with the PMF and closer ties to Iran, has proposed the removal of the US military presence, approximately 2,500 troops, from Iraq.