Senior Iraqi political figure threatens to target U.S. interests if it backs Israel

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BAGHDAD – Hadi Al-Amiri, a powerful Iraqi politician close to Iran and a key figure in the cross-party alliance backing Iraq’s government, has threatened to target U.S. interests if Washington intervenes to support Israel in its conflict with Hamas in Gaza.

Amiri leads the Badr Organisation, a Shi’ite political group supported by Iran that makes up a big part of Iraq’s Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), the state paramilitary organization that contains many Iran-backed factions.

“If they intervene, we would intervene…if the Americans intervened openly in this conflict…we will consider all American targets legitimate … and we will not hesitate to target it,” al-Amiri said during a tribal gathering in Baghdad on Monday night.

Al-Amiri’s comments came a day after the United States said it would rapidly provide additional munitions to Israel and was moving a carrier strike group to the Eastern Mediterranean.

In past years, Iranian-backed militias in Iraq regularly targeted U.S. forces in Iraq and its embassy in Baghdad with rockets. More recently, those attacks have been halted in what Iraqi officials and militia sources said was a truce that has held since last year, as Iraq enjoys a period of relative calm.

The United States currently has 2,500 troops in Iraq – and an additional 900 in Syria – on a mission to advise and assist local troops in combating Islamic State, who in 2014 seized swathes of territory in both countries.

On Saturday the PMF voiced its “unequivocal support” for the Palestinian factions fighting Israel and the Iraqi government has said the Palestinian operations were a natural outcome of oppressive policies by Israel. REUTERS

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