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Iraqi Hezbollah Brigades suspected of kidnapping Turkish workers

One Iraqi soldier was killed today as the military raided a Hezbollah Brigades headquarters while searching for 18 Turkish construction workers who were kidnapped in Baghdad. The raid and its aftermath highlights the increasing influence of the Iranian-backed Shiite militias and the Iraqi government’s collusion and conflict with these dangerous organizations.

A spokesman for the Hashid Shaabi, or Popular Mobilization Committee, confirmed that Hezbollah Brigades, a subordinate militia, confirmed that an Iraqi soldier was killed and two militiamen were wounded during the raid. The Popular Mobilization Committee, the aegis under which the militias operate, which is supported by the Iraqi government and is supposedly under the military’s command, is directed by Abu Mahdi al Muhandis, who is listed by the US government as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. Hezbollah Brigades is a US-listed Foreign Terrorist Organization. Meanwhile, a spokesman for Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi couldn’t even honestly answer a question if the kidnapper is linked to Hezbollah Brigades. From Reuters:

Saad al-Hadithi, a spokesman for Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, said security forces had come under fire on Thursday night when they tried to raid a house on Palestine Street in Baghdad’s eastern district of Mohandessen. Intelligence had indicated the presence there of a member of the group involved in the Turks’ abduction, he said.

Hadithi would not confirm or deny that the suspect had been apprehended, and would not comment on his possible affiliation with Kataib or any other group

A spokesman for the Hashid Shaabi, a government body overseeing armed groups fighting Islamic State including Kataib [Kataib Hezbollah, or Hezbollah Brigades], denied the militia had any connection to the missing Turks.

Karim al-Nuri said a “routine search” had escalated into a quarrel that left one soldier dead and two militia members wounded.

“The friction started due to accusations that the Turkish workers were kidnapped by Kataib. Following the security forces’ search, this allegation was proven wrong,” Nuri said.

A security source said the army was searching the headquarters and surrounding buildings in the predominantly Shi’ite neighborhood, but had not yet found any trace of the Turkish hostages.

We continue to be told by the Obama administration’s Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition To Counter ISIL, or the Islamic State, that the Popular Mobilization Committee “should not alarm us” as it has “been subordinated to the Iraqi higher military campaign or command” and isn’t part of the “extremist elements” operating in Iraq. And yet the Popular Mobilization Committee itself is directed by a Specially Designated Global Terrorist who is intimately tied to Iran and its Qods Force, and one of its most powerful elements is a Foreign Terrorist Organization that has killed hundreds of US soldiers and is currently suspected of kidnapping Turkish citizens. Additionally, one of the Popular Mobilization Committee’s most celebrated commanders, Abu Azrael, videotapes himself as he burns an Islamic State fighter alive.

Despite these depredations, the US military continues to support these Shiite militias by providing airstrikes during Iraqi military and militia offensive operations in cities such as Ramadi, Fallujah, and Baiji.

Bill Roggio :Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.