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Arrest warrant issued for Iraqi Kata’ib Hezbollah leader Abu Ali al-Askari

Arrest warrant issued for Iraqi Kata’ib Hezbollah leader Abu Ali al-Askari

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 Affected Countries: iraq;

Iraq’s judiciary issued an arrest warrant for Abu Ali al-Askari, a senior leader of the Iraqi Kata’ib Hezbollah militia, on Sunday, hours after he made threats against Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi. The judiciary moved to act against Askari in accordance with Iraq’s anti-terrorism law, amid news he could be outside Iraq.

The move is expected to escalate tensions with pro-Iranian militias.

Judicial authorities reportedly issued arrest warrants for two other leaders of Kata’ib Hezbollah, which has links to armed groups that launched rockets at diplomatic missions and military buildings in Baghdad and other governorates.

Askari has made public threats against the prime minister, which opened the door to the possibility of an open confrontation between Kadhimi’s government and Iran’s militias.

Iraqi activists shared a memorandum issued by the presidency of the Baghdad-Al-Karkh Federal Court of Appeal, which has the authority to look into terrorism cases, to arrest Hussein Mounes, aka Abu Ali al-Askari.

Observers believe that a confrontation between the Iraqi government and the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) that represent Iranian interests in the country is possible at any moment.

The confrontation became more probable after the arrest of a senior leader of the Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq militia led by Qais Khazali over his alleged involvement in carrying out missile attacks on the US Embassy in Baghdad.

Asaib Ahl al-Haq and Kata’ib Hezbollah are considered two powerful factions under the PMF’s umbrella that have close ties with Iran.

On Friday, elements loyal to the Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia threatened the Iraqi prime minister, saying they were waiting for a green light from Khazali before undertaking any action.

The threats coincide with the looming first anniversary of the killings of Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, commander of Kata’ib Hezbollah, in a US drone strike near Baghdad International Airport.

Armed Shia groups, including Kata’ib Hezbollah and Asaib Ahl al-Haq, had threatened to target US forces in Iraq if they do not withdraw, in compliance with Iraqi parliament’s decision to end foreign military presence in the country.

Source: The Arab Weekly

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