A prominent Iran-backed Iraqi militia group fighting in Syria has announced that the U.S. military strike will not change the trajectory of the Syrian war, the Iranian media reports. According to the state-run Hashim al-Mousawi, the spokesman of Harkat al-Nujaba, described the Trump administration's missile assault against a Syrian army airbase as a “hurricane in a glass” and argued that it will not have a significant impact on the ground. He emphasized “resistance” and “the path of jihad” will continue and that the group’s role in the Syrian war remains unchanged. The militia commander also criticized regional governments for voicing support to Washington’s military attack against the Arab country. He claimed the U.S. attack targeting the Syrian army airbase was a retaliation for the recent downing of an Israeli aircraft. “It is a calculated plan to target the Syrian air power,” he alleged. He further continued that Washington resorted to military strikes because it failed to change the balance of power on the battlefield or through negotiations.
Comment: Harakat al-Nujaba – also known as Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba – is a prominent Iraqi militia group that operates under the leadership of Major General Qassem Soleimani, the head of the elite Quds Force of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (I.R.G.C.). The leader of the group, Akram al-Kaabi, makes no secret of his allegiance to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei or his close relationship with Soleimani. The I.R.G.C. uses the Nujaba group and other powerful Shiite units within Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (P.M.F.) not just to further Iran’s interests in Iraq but also in Syria. The group has been fighting in Syria since 2013. Kaabi has recently that the group’s remaining forces will leave Iraq for Syria to fight alongside the I.R.G.C. forces and the Syrian Army once the Islamic State is defeated in Mosul. Nujaba has close operational links with the Lebanese Hezbollah.
Last month, the Nujaba movement announced that it had established a new brigade to seize the Golan Heights – claiming that “latest victories” against the Islamic State and Sunni rebels in Iraq and Syria have allowed the group and its allies to focus on Israel. And in an interview with Iran’s Mehr News Agency a week ago, Nasr al-Shammari, the group’s deputy military chief, reiterated that the group is committed to annihilating the state of Israel. “If this regime is destroyed, regional problems will be resolved completely.” Shammari also claimed that Shiite militia groups forced the “occupying” U.S. forces to withdraw from Iraq and are able to replicate that success against Israel.