On Saturday, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani declared three days of mourning for the Iraqis killed by US airstrikes that were launched on Friday.
According to a statement from al-Sudani’s media office, the prime minister declared the days of mourning “across state departments and institutions as a tribute to the martyrs of our armed forces and civilians who lost their lives due to the US airstrikes on the Akashat and Qa’im areas in the western Anbar province.”
The statement said Iraq was also summoning the US envoy to protest the strikes. “In protest against the American aggression that targeted Iraqi military and civilian sites, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will summon the Charge d’Affaires of the United States Embassy in Baghdad, David Burger,” the statement said.
The Iraqi government said 16 people were killed in the strikes, including militants and civilians. Later, the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), a coalition of militias that’s part of Iraq’s security forces, named 16 of its members who were killed in the strikes.
The PMF said on Sunday that Iraq must be “cleansed” of US forces. “The American aggression was a direct targeting of the Popular Mobilization Forces. This incident will not go unnoticed because it represents a shameless targeting,” said PMF leader Falih al-Fayyadh at a funeral for the slain fighters. “The land of Iraq must be cleansed of foreign presence.”
Since mid-October, US forces in Iraq and Syria have come under attack over 160 times in response to President Biden’s full-throated support for Israel’s slaughter in Gaza. An umbrella group of Shia militias that calls itself the Islamic Resistance of Iraq took credit for most of the attacks.
The US airstrikes launched on Friday came after the January 28 drone attack at a base in Jordan near the Syrian border that killed three US soldiers. The US launched several rounds of airstrikes in Iraq and Syria over the past few months, but Friday’s attack was the most extensive. US Central Command said 85 targets were hit, and about 125 munitions were dropped on Iraq and Syria.
The Iraqi government had been calling for an end to the US military presence as it’s strongly opposed to the US airstrikes. The two countries have started talks on the future of US forces in Iraq, but it’s unclear if it will lead to a withdrawal. In neighboring Syria, US troops are also unwelcomed by the government, making the presence an illegal occupation.