Kataib Hezbollah, which is an Iranian-backed group in Iraq, reportedly threatened Turkish forces in Iraq over the weekend. Turkey has numerous outposts and bases in northern Iraq, and Ankara often carried out airstrikes against Yazidi minorities in Sinjar.
The Turkish role in Iraq, where Turkey says it is “fighting terrorism,” has caused controversy before with Baghdad. Pro-Iranian groups tend to view Turkey as violating Iraq’s sovereignty, an irony considering these groups work with Iran, which also violates Iraq’s sovereignty.
Kataib Hezbollah was conducting a ceremony for a “high-ranking martyr” when the comments against Turkey were made, according to Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency. Kataib Hezbollah said in a statement it defends the Iraqi nation and that anyone who insults the Iraqi authorities “insults all the people of this country and the Muslim ummah [community],” Fars reported. The movement “went on to address the parliamentary elections” and then turned its attention to other issues, such as Yemen, the report said.
On February 3, a previously unknown militia in Iraq took responsibility for using drones to attack the UAE. This was apparently coordinated with Iran and Kataib Hezbollah. Kataib has attacked Saudi Arabia in the past using drones. Iran has encouraged the Houthis in Yemen to attack the UAE and is now using Iraq militias to do the same.
Kataib Hezbollah also has threatened Turkey. “The knife has reached the bone,” it said in its statement, referring to Turkey’s attacks on northern Iraq.” It is enough to ignore the lives of our people and the [role] of the sovereignty of our country... Know that a nation that shattered the grandeur of the world’s greatest power [the United States] and rubbed its snout on the ground can also rub your nose into the ground,” it said.
Kataib Hezbollah demanded that Turkey withdraw its forces “before it’s too late,” according to Fars, which is considered close to the IRGC. Kataib Hezbollah is also linked to the IRGC. Its previous commander, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, was with IRGC Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani when the US killed both of them in January 2020.
According to the report, Kataib Hezbollah’s threat may be due to escalate Turkish airstrikes in Iraq. Turkey claims to be bombing terrorists, but its airstrikes are escalating in areas near Iraqi forces in Sinjar and Mahmour.
Turkey usually operates mountain bases in the autonomous Kurdish Region of northern Iraq. However, Turkey’s Bashiqa base, which was established during the war on ISIS and overlooks Nineveh Plains, has been targeted by pro-Iran militias in the past.
Rockets targeted the Turkish base in January and last December, November and April, according to media reports. Pro-Iran militias have targeted US forces in Erbil in the Kurdish Region several times over the last two years. This includes an attack last February and a drone attack last April, as well as an attack at the end of September 2020.