Defense

Iraqi militia leader arrested over attacks on bases hosting US troops: report

The Al Asad air base in Iraq
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Iraqi security forces on Wednesday arrested a senior militia commander in connection with rocket attacks on a base that houses U.S. troops, Reuters reported.

Qasim Muslih was arrested at dawn under the country’s anti-terrorism law, the Iraqi military said. He is being questioned by a joint investigative committee about criminal charges against him, according to a brief military statement.

Two security sources told Reuters that Muslih was arrested in Baghdad for involvement in several attacks including recent rocket assaults on the air base at Al Asad, which houses U.S. and other international forces.

Muslih is head of the Anbar province Popular Mobilisation Forces, a group primarily made up of Iran-backed Shi’ite militias.

Iraq has struggled to contain threats from Tehran-backed militias toward the base, with at least 10 rockets hitting Al Asad on March 3, an attack by an unmanned aerial surveillance system earlier this month and a single rocket striking close to the base on Monday, among other assaults.

The violence has led some U.S. contractors, including Lockheed Martin, to pull its employees from the region over the past several months.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby later on Wednesday said he had seen press reports of the arrest but could not confirm them.

“We don’t have any independent confirmation that this actually happened,” Kirby told reporters.

He added that the United States is “always in consultation with our Iraqi partners about security in the country.”

Updated at 5 p.m.

Tags Baghdad Iran Iraq Lockheed Martin militia groups rocket attacks Tehran

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