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Iraq, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Yemen’s Ansarullah censure US sanctions on PMU chairman

Iraq’s Foreign Ministry has slammed as “unacceptable” Washington’s sanctions on Chairman of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) Falih al-Fayyadh, a day after the US took the hostile measure against the popular anti-terror forces.

On Friday, the US Treasury Department sanctioned 64-year-old Fayyadh, accusing him of serious human rights abuses during anti-government demonstrations in the Arab country in late 2019.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin claimed in a statement that Fayyadh was involved in waging a “violent campaign against Iraqi democracy and civil society,” and said that the US would “continue to hold accountable human rights abusers in Iraq.”

The Iraqi Foreign Ministry expressed surprise in response to the move, describing it as an “unexpected and unacceptable” decision, IRNA reported on Saturday, citing Iraqi media.

The ministry said it will carefully pursue all decisions made by the Treasury against Iraqi figures during both the current and the incoming US administrations and will attempt to address their ramifications.

Fighters of the PMU, better known in Iraq as Hashd al-Sha’abi, have helped the Iraqi Army regain control of Daesh-held territories, which were captured by the terrorist group ever since it launched an offensive in the country in June 2014.

The Iraqi Army finally managed to regain control of all the lost territories in 2017, thanks to the PMU fighters and Iran’s military advisory assistance.

The PMU has been recognized by Iraq’s Parliament as an official force with similar rights as those of the regular army, including the right to receive salaries and pensions.

Meanwhile, the leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq also issued a statement, strongly denouncing the new US sanctions as “blatant violation” of his country’s sovereignty.

In a statement, the official said the move is in line with the United States’ increased acts of aggression against Iraq and the PMU, following the assassination of its commanders as well as bombing and killing of dozens of its fighters, IRNA reported, citing Arabic-language Almaalomah news agency.

Hashd al-Sha’abi works under the command of the Iraqi Armed Forces, and Fayyadh is a government figure and a national fighter, Hamoudi said.

He also asked the Iraqi government to take a decisive stance against the US move.

Separately, Iraqi National Security Adviser Qasim al-Araji also took to Twitter to advise the US Treasury to correct its mistake, because Fayyadh “should not be on the sanctions lists.”

Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Yemen’s Ansarullah condemn Washington’s move

The Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement, in a statement, condemned the US sanctions against the PMU leader. 

It said the new sanctions should be added to a series of continued US crimes against the Iraqi government and people.

The political office of Yemen’s Ansarullah movement also denounced the US measure, saying it was yet another “hostile act” against Iraq and its people, which will be added to America’s record of animosity toward the Arab nation.

The Ansarullah movement voiced confidence that the sanctions would not affect the Iraqi people’s will to free their homeland and drive the occupying forces out of their country.

The US sanctions came exactly one year after Iran fired a barrage of missiles at the US air base of Ain al-Assad in Iraq’s western province of Anbar to retaliate the assassination of Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of the PMU.

The assassination, which was directly ordered by US President Donald Trump, also prompted the Iraqi legislators to pass a bill to demand the withdrawal of all foreign military forces led by the United States from their country.

Recently, an Iraqi court ordered Trump’s arrest as part of its investigation into the assassination of Soleimani and Muhandis.

The arrest warrant, issued by Baghdad’s Rusafa investigation court, applies to Trump under Article 406 of the Iraqi penal code, which provides for the death penalty in all cases of premeditated murder.

According to the court, the preliminary inquiry had been completed but “investigations are continuing in order to unmask the other culprits in this crime, be they Iraqis or foreigners.”

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