Qasem Soleimani killing: It's time for 'Iraqi response' to US drone strike, says Paramilitary chief Qais al-Khazali

Agencies Baghdad, Baghdad, Iraq Jan 08, 2020, 04.30 PM(IST)

Qais al-Khazali (C) leader of the Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, one of the units of the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation units) gives a speech during a campaign rally for the Fateh Alliance, a coalition of Iranian-supported militia groups, in Baghdad on May 7, 2018, ahead of Iraq's parliamentary elections to be held on May 12. Photograph:( AFP )

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Qais al-Khazali is now one of the most feared and respected Shia militia leaders in Iraq, and one of Iran’s most important allies in the country.

A top commander in Iraq's Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary network said Wednesday it was time for an "Iraqi response" to a US drone strike that killed the network's deputy chief.

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"That response will be no less than the size of the Iranian response. That is a promise," Qais al-Khazali, a hardline Hashed commander, threatened in a tweet.  

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Iran launched missiles at Iraqi bases housing US troops early Wednesday in retaliation for last week's US drone strike that killed senior Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani and Hashed deputy chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

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In 2007, Khazali was arrested by American forces for his alleged role in an attack on a government compound in Karbala in the Shia heartland of southern Iraq, which left five American soldiers dead.

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He is now one of the most feared and respected Shia militia leaders in Iraq, and one of Iran’s most important allies in the country.

He was among the thousands of militia fighters, armed and wearing green camouflage military fatigues, who flocked to northern Iraq to battle Islamic State.