By Ibrahim Saleh
BAGHDAD (AA) – A U.S. diplomat has denied U.S. responsibility for an airstrike carried out near Syria’s border with Iraq late Sunday that left more than 20 members of Iraq’s Hashd al-Shaabi dead.
The denial came at a Tuesday meeting between U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Douglas Silliman and Iraqi Vice-President Osama al-Nujaifi, according to a statement issued by the latter’s office.
“The U.S. Air Force was not responsible for the attack that targeted certain Iraqi factions in Syria,” the statement quoted Silliman as saying in reference to the Iraqi Shia military force.
“There is no U.S. air activity in the region,” he added.
On Monday, the Hashd al-Shaabi said that U.S. warplanes had struck one of its encampments near the Iraq-Syria border, leaving 22 of its fighters dead.
The group went on to demand a “formal explanation” from the U.S. regarding the deadly incident.
Shortly afterward, however, Iraq’s Defense Ministry said the U.S. had not carried out the attack.
Incorporated into the Iraqi Armed Forces in 2016, the Hashd al-Shaabi is composed primarily of Shia fighters.
First established in 2014 with the express purpose of fighting the Daesh terrorist group, Iraq’s Hashd al-Shaabi is believed to include some 150,000 fighters.