Iran-backed groups in Iraq, Syria said to evacuate ahead of feared US retaliation

Iran-backed militias in Iraq and Syria are vacating their military posts in anticipation of a US retaliatory strike.

A source from the Islamic Resistance in Iraq umbrella group tells al-Araby al-Jadeed that the group has evacuated its positions along the Iraq-Syria border, leaving only one or two guards to man each post, amid intensified reconnaissance activity by American aircraft in the area, which has led the militias to fret that the US response will come quickly.

After leaving their positions, militia leaders have reduced their use of mobile phones for fear of being tracked and targeted, the source adds to the London-based Qatari-owned outlet.

Omar Abu Layla, a Europe-based activist who heads the Deir Ezzor 24 media outlet, says Iran-backed fighters in east Syria also began evacuating their posts. He tells The Associated Press that the areas are the strongholds of Mayadeen and Boukamal.

US President Joe Biden said that the United States “will hold all those responsible to account at a time and in a manner of our choosing,” after a drone strike killed three US service members and wounded dozens in a military base in northeastern Jordan yesterday. Biden has blamed the deadly attack on “radical Iran-backed militia groups.”

The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an umbrella group for Iran-backed factions, earlier claimed launching explosive drone attacks targeting three areas in Syria, as well as one inside of “occupied Palestine.” The group has claimed responsibility for dozens of attacks against bases housing US troops in Iraq and Syria since the Israel-Hamas war began.

Three officials with Iran-backed militias in Iraq, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter with journalists, said the drone attack against the base in Jordan was launched by one of the Iraqi groups. No faction has yet officially claimed responsibility.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani has denied his country’s involvement.

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