Iraqi Militias Stopped Attacks on US Forces at Request of Iranian General

According to Reuters, US troops in Iraq and Syria haven't been attacked since February 4

A visit from an Iranian general to the Shia militias in Iraq led to a pause in attacks on US forces, Reuters reported on Sunday, citing Iranian and Iraqi sources.

Brig. Gen. Esmail Qaani made the trip to Iraq on January 29, one day after three US troops were killed in a drone attack on a base in Jordan near the Syrian border. He warned that the death of the American soldiers would likely provoke a heavy American response and said the groups should lie low to avoid being targeted.

A day after the visit, Kataib Hezbollah, one of the most powerful Shia militias in Iraq, announced it was suspending attacks on US troops. In its statement, Kataib Hezbollah said Iran “repeatedly declared opposition to our escalation against the US forces in Iraq and Syria.”

Initially, one faction did not agree to the Iranian request, and there were a few more attacks on US bases, but there have been none since February 4, the day six US-backed Kurdish fighters were killed in a drone attack on a US facility in Syria.

The lull in attacks is significant since US troops in Iraq and Syria have come under attack over 170 times due to US support for the Israeli slaughter in Gaza. The attacks started in October and only paused briefly in November during the seven-day truce in Gaza that was part of the Israel-Hamas hostage deal.

The US launched a series of airstrikes on Iraq and Syria on February 2 that killed about 40 people, mostly members of Iraq’s militias. The US also killed a senior Kataib Hezbollah commander in a drone strike in Baghdad on February 7, but there was no response.

The lack of response could also be attributed to the Iraqi government stepping up its efforts to get the US to withdraw from Iraq. The US airstrikes have infuriated Baghdad since Kataib Hezbollah and other Shia militias are part of Iraq’s security forces under the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), a coalition formed in 2014 to fight ISIS.

The US and Iraq have restarted talks on the future of the US military presence. An Iraqi military spokesman said, “Based on these meetings, a timetable will be formulated for a deliberate and gradual reduction leading to the end of the mission.”

Iraqi prime ministers have been under pressure to expel US troops since January 2020, when Qaani’s predecessor, Gen. Qasem Soleimani, and PMF leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, were killed by a US drone strike. The Iraqi parliament voted unanimously for an end to the US military presence, but the US refused to leave.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.