An unnamed source in the provincial command of the voluntary forces, better known by the Arabic name Hashad al-Sha’abi, told the Arabic-language al-Sumaria television network that US troops carried out an airdrop operation early on Thursday in an area of Khan al-Baghdadi city, which lies close to the Ain al-Asad air base, where hundreds of American troops are stationed, and detained Naseer al-Obeidi.
The source added that Obeidi is a prominent figure within the PMU, and that Americans have not provided any information about the reason for the arrest or the charges against him.
Last week, thousands of supporters of the PMU staged a rally in the capital Baghdad to express their resentment over the United States’ interference in Iraq’s internal affairs after the Treasury Department imposed sanctions on several leaders of the voluntary forces.
Hashd Sha’abi supporters rally in Baghdad to condemn US interference, sanctionsThousands of Iraqi protesters condemn US sanctions against Hashd al-Sha’abi leaders and Washington’s interference in the country’s internal affairs.
On Saturday, supporters of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, which is part of the PMU, converged on Firdos Square in the heart of Baghdad, which became world-renowned when Iraqis pulled down the statue of deposed dictator Saddam Hussein there following the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, and walked on a makeshift US flag during a demonstration against the US sanctions on the group’s leader Qais Khazali.
They also installed gallows at the side of a road, and hung the effigies of US President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman from them.
Arabic-language Baghdad Today news agency reported last week that Iraqi lawmakers had denounced Washington’s move on December 6 to impose sanctions targeting leaders of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq and the Kata’ib Hezbollah group, which operate as part of the country’s Popular Mobilization Units.
The Hikma bloc (National Wisdom Movement), led by top Iraqi cleric Ammar al-Hakim, issued a statement decrying the sanctions as an instance of “blatant meddling in Iraq’s affairs.”
Iraqi MPs slam US’ blacklisting of anti-terrorism commandersIraqi lawmakers have slammed the US
“We regard these measures as a clear violation of Iraq’s sovereignty,” the statement read.
The US slapped sanctions on top officials of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq over allegations they were involved in the abuse of Iraqi protesters.
Among those targeted are also Khazali’s brother Laith al-Khazali, and Hussein Falih al-Lami, the security chief of the Hashd al-Sha’abi.
Seven Hashd Sha’abi fighters killed in bomb attack in northern IraqA bomb attack kills at least seven fighters from the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) in Iraq’s north-central province of Salahuddin.
Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters have played a major role in the liberation of Daesh-held areas to the south, northeast and north of the Iraqi capital, ever since the terrorists launched an offensive in the country, overrunning vast swathes in lightning attacks.
In November 2016, the Iraqi parliament voted to integrate Hashd al-Sha’abi, which was formed shortly after the emergence of Daesh, into the military.