Debka File, an Israeli English-language military intelligence news site, reported over the weekend that U.S. troops were flown to Iraq last Wednesday to prepare for confrontations with pro-Iranian forces in Syria and northern Iraq. In their exclusive report, Debka stated that American forces in the Gulf region and southern Europe were placed on high alert in anticipation of the confrontation.
The report also explained that the U.S. buildup comes one day after the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control placed Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba on its Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List, under what the office calls its Counter Terrorism Designation. Hezbollah al-Nujaba, a pro-Iranian Shi’ite militia inside Iraq, to be a terror organization. Armed with heavy weaponry including tanks and missiles provided by Iran via Syria, the group’s primary goal is to conquer the Israeli Golan.
The report comes just as a Shi’ite military leader in Iraq threatened the U.S. and Israel. Hezbollah al-Nujaba spokesman Hashim al-Mousawi told Fars News that his organization was prepared for a conflict with the U.S. “We will not retreat in the face of any country that violates Iraqi sovereignty,” Mousawi said, adding that they had a special “Golan Unit” to fight Israel. The group has also vowed to support Hezbollah in Lebanon in its fight against Israel.
Iran announced this week that its president, Hassan Rouhani, will make his first-ever political visit to Iraq. Though both countries are run by Shi’ite governments, they share 870 miles of border and a combative history. In the 1980s, they fought an eight-year war that killed nearly a million people.