Purported new Iraqi Shia group claims attacks on Camp Taji

Logo of the new “League of the Revolutionaries”

A likely Iranian-backed militant group called “League of the Revolutionaries” published a video Sunday claiming responsibility for recent attacks against a base housing American-led coalition troops in Iraq.

An Iraqi base which hosts American and coalition troops has come under repeated attack in the last several days by Iranian-backed militant groups. 

The base known as Camp Taji hosts a coalition of troops from countries who belong to the Combined Joint Task Force. The coalition is tasked under Operation Inherent Resolve to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria. 

In the last week, two attacks against the base resulted in the deaths of three coalition members, and the injury of several others

As a response, the U.S. launched several retailitatory airstrikes on Friday against Kata’ib Hezbollah (or the Hezbollah Brigades, KH), the group blamed for the rocket barrages. However, several Iraqi soldiers were killed in the airstrikes. 

In its own statement, KH has alleged that none of its fighters were injured in the airstrikes. 

“Striking the enemy of Islam and Muslims”

In its statement, “League of the Revolutionaries” tells readers its reason behind attacking, saying America is “the enemy of the vulnerable people and it has gone too far in its excesses across Iraq.” 

The group further explains “The assassinations of our martyred commanders [Qasem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al Muhandis] ignited a fire within our chests.” 

The statement lauds the deaths and injuries of coalition troops saying “We rejoice in the fear that we have struck in the chests of the occupying enemy as a result of our quality operations.”

The author suggests more attacks are forthcoming against American troops by claiming “and this operation is only the beginning and the end is soon to come.”

Towards the end of the publication, the group takes responsibility for the attack stating “we announce that these blessed operations [operations striking the occupier’s bases] are our operations alone and we fear no one in its announcement.”

The statement concludes with the warning “and we say to the evil clients of the [American] Embassy: Your days are numbered, and you reap what you sow.”

A likely front group

Despite the appearance of being a new formation, the League of the Revolutionaries is likely a front group for other, more established Iranian proxies in Iraq.

So far, no official proxy in the country, such as Kata’ib Hezbollah, has claimed the rocket barrages on Camp Taji. The use of a one-off front is a tried-and true-method that allows for plausible deniability. 

Moreover, the logo, which mirrors that of the IRGC and other proxies across the Middle East, demonstrates its position within Iran’s ‘axis of resistance.’

The IRGC and its network have a long history of utilizing front names to claim more sensitive attacks – especially in Iraq. Today’s claim is another instance that fits a long pattern of behavior. 

For example, in 2006 a group calling itself the “Ahl al Bayt Brigades” kidnapped American soldier Ahmed Kousay Altaie. The ‘Ahl al Bayt Brigades” was later identified as a front for Iranian proxy Asa’ib Ahl al Haq (AAH). 

One year later, another AAH front, “Islamic Shia Resistance,” kidnapped five British citizens from the Finance Ministry in Baghdad. Four of them were later executed in captivity, but the last was freed in return for the release of AAH’s leader, Qais al Qazali.

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