A source in the Iraqi Popular Mobilization forces (PMF) militia on Tuesday said that 36 of its fighters had been killed and 80 others wounded during American artillery fire that struck their convoy on the Iraqi-Syrian border.
The source, who asked not to be named, told Turkey’s Anadolu agency that “American forces in Syria on Monday struck a line of the Sayyid al-Shuhada brigades, which are one of the Popular Mobilization forces groups.”
He added that “the bombardment fell inside Syria territory on the side opposite the Akashat area under the Ar-Rutbah district in Anbar province in far-west Iraq.”
He said that “the bodies of the dead arrived late yesterday to the Baghdad international airport.”
The source continued that, “Among the dead was the nephew of Al-Hajj Abou Alaa al-Walaei, secretary-general of the [Sayyid al-Shuhada] brigades.”
A security source in the Iraqi province of Anbar said that “Popular Mobilization forces were struck by bombardment after crossing the border from Iraq into Syria.”
The Kataeb Sayyid al-Shuhada brigades acknowledged that the American attack had killed and wounded a large number of their fighters, vowing that “this act will not go unpunished.”
The brigades said in a statement issued Tuesday evening on its website that “American forces forcefully bombarded the positions of the mujhadeen of the [Sayyid al-Shuhada] brigades on the Syrian-Iraqi border opposite Akashat,” adding that the bombardment “resulted in the martyrdom and wounding of a large number.”
“The Americans claimed that they were shelling presumed ISIS sites with smart artillery on the Syria-Iraqi border and we knew they were targeting us, the sons of the Popular Mobilization forces and children of the marjaiyeh [Najaf-based Shiite establishment],” the statement said.
The brigades blamed “the American army for the consequences of this action, which will not be tolerated,” and called on “the relevant authorities, especially the Iraqi government, to open a major investigation into this act.”
The reason that the PMF had crossed onto the Syrian side was not immediately clear, but statements have previously been issued by the militia’s leadership that it would fight alongside the Bashar al-Assad regime after ending the battle for Mosul.
By 7:30 a.m. there was no comment from the Iraqi or American armies to the news of the artillery strike.
On June 18, Assad forces met with PMF militias on the border of the two countries in Anbar province in western Iraq for the first time since the Islamic State (ISIS) expanded into the two countries in 2014 and 2015.
The meeting occurred 50 kilometers north of the Syrian Al-Tanf crossing, near the Jordanian border, close to a military base where Americans are training Syrian opposition forces.
About a month before that, American warplanes bombed regime forces and allied militias backed by Iran in an attempt to prevent them from reaching the border.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.