Flashpoints

Trump warns Iran will pay a ‘very heavy price’ if its forces or proxies attack US troops

President Donald Trump warned Iran in a tweet Wednesday that it would pay a “very heavy price” if its forces or militias attacked U.S. troops.

Trump hinted the U.S. may have information that Iran and its proxies may be planning a “sneak attack” on U.S. troops in Iraq.

“Upon information and belief, Iran or its proxies are planning a sneak attack on U.S. troops and/or assets in Iraq. If this happens, Iran will pay a very heavy price, indeed!,” Trump tweeted Wednesday.

Trump did not provide any additional information or evidence of a potential attack against U.S. forces in Iraq. Officials from Combined Joint Task Force-Inherent Resolve, the command overseeing the fight against ISIS, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

But there have been some public statements made by some groups hostile to the U.S. presence in the region.

Chatter across social media suggests an Iran-backed militia group believed to be behind dozens of rocket attacks targeting coalition troops known as Kataib Hezbollah is planning for a large scale conflict with the U.S.

Analyst groups on social media claim the group has been conducting night time exercises known as hunter crow or crows hunting to prepare for the fight.

An intelligence and risk consultancy group known as The Cavell Group tweeted March 26 that some popular mobilization units including “Hezbollah, Badr, Peace Corps are involved in night exercises called ‘crows hunting’ in preparation for striking US forces. Some video footage posted online. All part of increasing threats.”

The Cavell Group Twitter account is followed by OIR spokesman U.S. Army Col. Myles B. Caggins III.

Another Twitter account, Sada al-Iraq which claims to be a news organization, also followed by Caggins, tweeted what the organization claims is video of night preparation by Kataib Hezbollah to attack U.S. forces.

Military Times has not independently verified the authenticity of the video.

The U.S. has blamed Kataib Hezbollah for a deadly strike against a Kirkuk installation in Dec. 2019 that killed an American contractor. The U.S. also says the group is responsible for the recent March 11 rocket barrage against Camp Taji, Iraq, which killed two American troops and a U.K. service member.

The U.S. launched retaliatory strikes against the group in March destroying weapons depots and rocket storage facilities. Attacks by the Iran-backed group have nearly sparked a war between Tehran and the U.S.

American troops have recently handed over three small bases to Iraq troops as they consolidate forces across the country. The re-positioning of U.S. forces is a result of success against ISIS and concerns over COVID-19, Operation Inherent Resolve says.

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