On 18 March, a group identifying itself as Usbat al-Thaireen (League of the Revolutionaries) released a video threatening to continue to conduct rocket attacks against US interests if US forces did not withdraw from Iraq. In conjunction with an earlier video statement on 15 March, the group claimed responsibility for the rocket attacks against Taji Military Base on 11 March and 14 March, as well as the rocket attack against Camp Besmaya on 16 March. The group described these attacks as a “simple message” to the Americans and the “smallest amount of force the group could use” against US interests.
The spokesman said his group possessed access to “long-range weapons that can punish you in the land of your spoiled child Israel”. “According to all this, we advise Mr Trump and the friends of all who were killed earlier – Sergeant Marshal Roberts and Juan Mendez from Aviation Regiment 227 in Fort Hood Texas – to leave vertically, before we force them to leave horizontally,” he said, referring to the two US servicemen killed during the 11 March attack.
This phrasing and hand gesturing mimicked a component of a speech made by Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah on 5 January. The group’s logo mirrors that of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and many of its proxies. The US government has accused Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH) of responsibility for high-profile rocket attacks against US interests in Iraq since tensions spiked in late 2019. It is initially assessed that the League of the Revolutionaries was established to act as a front for KH or another hardline Iranian proxy.
Attributing attacks to obscure groups along these lines is far from unprecedented. The assessed end state is affording KH plausible deniability for relevant militant activity, in an attempt to reduce the likelihood of efforts to disrupt KH interests at the operational and strategic level. This was recently exemplified by the US classifying a KH leader as “specially designated global terrorist” after he was appointed as the new deputy chairman of the Popular Mobilization Committee, kinetic retaliatory actions such as the recent airstrikes against KH interests, and additional sanctions affecting entities in Iran. The US continues to evaluate responses after a range of retaliatory actions proved to be an ineffective deterrence for militant activity against US interests in Iraq.
In conjunction with overarching conditions pertaining to US-Iran tensions, there is no end in sight for the longstanding shadow war between the respective power bases and their regional allies. The GoI remains in a challenging condition amongst this unwelcomed proxy war on its soil and competing political influences. The mainstay of militant activity attributed to Iranian proxies is expected to remain indirect fire attacks against the US Embassy and joint bases hosting US and allied forces. Other actions including IED attacks against US-contracted logistics convoys are also expected to form a persistent threat. For unaffiliated client operations, the main consideration remains the threat of inadvertent exposure, promoting the importance of continuous awareness of current threat patterns.