Iraq condemns the targeting of pro-Syria paramilitary troops in eastern Syria after an airstrike killed mostly Iraqi Shiite forces

Share story

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq condemned on Tuesday the targeting of pro-Syria paramilitary troops in eastern Syria after an airstrike killed mostly Iraqi Shiite forces deployed to fight the Islamic State group.

In a statement, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry expressed “rejection and condemnation of airstrikes targeting troops deployed in areas where they are fighting Daesh, whether in Iraq or Syria.” Daesh is the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.

Targeting these troops “is a support to Daesh to regroup and to expand,” the statement added. It called for continuing coordination between the U.S.-led coalition and troops on the ground to support them in the fight.

Iraqi Shiite forces and Syria accused on Monday the U.S.-led coalition of conducting the Sunday airstrikes along the Iraq-Syria border, killing at least 22 fighters and sounding 12 others. Iraqi officials in Baghdad put the death toll at 25 Shiite fighters, with 25 others wounded and three missing.

U.S. military spokesman Col. Sean Ryan denied the strikes were carried out by U.S. or coalition forces, but said they were investigating.

The officials said the dead were mostly members of Iraq’s Hezbollah Brigades, which have been active in Syria’s civil war fighting alongside government forces. Also killed were some members of the Shiite Sayyed al-Shuhada Battalions, they said.

The Iraqi officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.

Also Tuesday, Iraq’s Hezbollah Brigades denounced what it called a “heinous crime” that “will not go unanswered,” blaming the attack on the “idiots Trump and Netanyahu.” It warned it was ready to confront Israel and America without hesitation.

No details were available on the strikes, but Syrian state TV said they occurred around midnight in the village of al-Hari, to the southeast of the border town of Boukamal along Iraqi border.

Last week, IS launched a major offensive against Boukamal, reaching the outskirts of the town before being pushed back by government forces. The loss of the town would deal a major blow to Iran-backed forces on both sides of the border, who have established a corridor through eastern Syria to link Iran to the Mediterranean Sea.

Syrian and Iraqi forces have driven IS from virtually all the territory it once held in both countries, but the militants still control some remote areas along the border.


Associated Press writer Qassim Abdul-Zahra contributed.