Despite a regional ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, an Iraqi group has warned American forces that the winter will be anything but tranquil.
On Tuesday, this warning was posted on social media by a group calling themselves “Ashab al-Kahf” or “Companions of the Cave.” The name is a play on a centuries-old story that appears in both Christian and Islamic literature, and it describes a band of young, monotheistic people who sought refuge in a cave from religious persecution. The post also included a photo of what looked like American soldiers tending to a wounded fellow soldier.
The announcement follows almost five weeks of continuous rocket and drone strikes against American forces in Iraq and Syria, asserted by an alliance of Iraqi militias identifying as “the Islamic Resistance in Iraq,” a moniker shared by Ashab al-Kahf and other armed groups in the nation.
Since the conflict broke out with a surprise assault on Israel by Hamas on October 7, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have battled with Hamas and other Palestinian organizations in Gaza. The Islamic Resistance in Iraq has conveyed its sympathy with Gaza.
U.S. strikes on Iraqi militias linked to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have continued in successive rounds in both Iraq and Syria. Resistance in Iraq was killed in the most recent round of simultaneous U.S. strikes that occurred last week in the lead-up to the Israel-Hamas truce.
The Iraqi government has criticized both the U.S. bombings and unsanctioned conduct by armed forces at home. In the twenty years since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq deposed Saddam Hussein, Washington, and Tehran have developed strong relations with the Iraqi government. However, during times of instability, Shiite Muslim militias backed by Iran have often battled with U.S. forces.
After the invasion, the United States faced a hardline Sunni Muslim insurgency, which sparked years of violent combat. ISIS, a terrorist organization, was born out of these hostilities; the United States and Iran spent a lot of time and energy trying to destroy it in Iraq and Syria.
At a Monday press conference held by the White House, National Security Council Strategic Communications Coordinator John Kirby discussed recent U.S. operations and the decision to augment its posture in the region in response to rising tensions and fears of unrest.