Iraqi armed groups say ready to fight Israel if Lebanon war breaks out

BAGHDAD: As war rages in Gaza and threatens to spread to Lebanon, Iraqi militant groups warn they are ready to enter the fray against Israel and the United States.

A field commander of the so-called Islamic Resistance in Iraq said there would be “escalation for escalation” in the event of a full-scale war in Lebanon.

The commander, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, said the Iran-backed group had already sent “experts and advisers” to Lebanon.

Iraqi political scientist Ali Al-Baidar agreed that a major war between Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, if it happens, “will not be limited to Lebanese territory.”

“In Iraq and in the region armed groups will enter into the confrontation,” he said, adding that they would want to show “their abilities, but also their loyalty” to their allies.

The bloodiest-ever Gaza war broke out when Palestinian militant group Hamas attacked southern Israel on October 7.

The conflict quickly widened to involve several pro-Iran armed groups in the so-called “Axis of Resistance” expressing solidarity with the Palestinians and demanding an end of the Israeli offensive in Gaza.

The alliance includes Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who have attacked Israel and Israeli-linked shipping, but also armed groups in Syria and Iraq.

In recent weeks, the Islamic Resistance in Iraq has claimed responsibility for drone strikes against targets in Israel, labelling many of them “joint operations” with the Houthis.

The Israeli army, without naming an attacker, has confirmed several aerial attacks from the east since April, but has said they were all intercepted before entering its airspace.

The Islamic Resistance in Iraq has previously shown its willingness to launch attacks.

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