Iraqi security forces have raided a base belonging to a powerful Iran-backed armed group in southern Baghdad and detained at least 14 militia members, sources have told Al Jazeera.
The raid late on Thursday was the most brazen action by Iraqi forces against a major Iran-backed group in years and targeted the Kataib Hezbollah faction, which United States officials have accused of firing rockets at bases hosting US troops and other facilities in Iraq.
Al Jazeera’s Simona Foltyn, reporting from Baghdad, said Iraq’s elite Counter Terrorism Service seized at least 10 rockets during the operation, which was “carried out an in effort to pre-empt an impending rocket attack on the Green Zone and Baghdad International Airport, both of which house US troops”.
“Subsequently, dozens of armed Kataib Hezbollah fighters arrived in the Green Zone and laid siege to one of the buildings belonging to the Counter Terrorism Service, demanding the release of the detainees, claiming they were arrested illegally without an arrest warrant,” she said.
Kataib Hezbollah itself is part of Iraq’s security apparatus, she noted, as the group is part of the state-funded Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), a Shia paramilitary dominated by Iran-backed armed groups.