Newspaper: Iraq heading towards U.S.-militia confrontations

U.S. soldiers stand near military vehicles at an army base in Karamless town, east of Mosul, Iraq, December 25, 2016. Picture taken December 25, 2016. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Baghdad ( Iraq is most probably going to witness a clash between U.S. forces deployed there and Iran-backed militias, a newspaper has predicted.

Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar, which is close to Shia militia Hezbollah, said Saturday that it is possible that “clashes will erupt between U.S. troops and Islamic resistance factions during 2018”, attributing its speculations to “the American expansion and attempts to reoccupy Iraq”.

“The provocative U.S. troops presence in Iraq could impose a confrontation with resistance factions backed by Iran,” according to the report.

It said the possibility raises a number of questions, including whether Iraqis will accept a “return to U.S. occupation under a new slogan, such as “international coalition, advisers and security firms”. It wondered whether those factions were ready to “ put down arms for the sake of electoral interests”.

The Pentagon said in November it maintains nearly 8000 troops in Iraq.

U.S. forces withdrew from Iraq in 2011, ending a presence since 2003 when they invaded the country to topple late president Saddam Hussein.

But the U.S. led an international coalition to back Iraqi forces in its war against IS since the emergence of the militant group in 2014 and until its defeat this month.

Also contributing to the campaign were the Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces, a Shia force that was recognized as a national force last year.

Many PMF leaders are recurrently quoted urging a U.S. troops pullout, and labelling them as enemy forces.

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