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Two pro-Iran Iraqi armed groups reject US claim of threat

AFP  |  Baghdad 

Two key pro-Iraqi armed groups Thursday rejected a US claim of an "imminent" threat against American personnel that prompted to order the evacuation of some staff from its

Nasr al-Shomari, a for the Iran-backed Harakat al-Nujaba, told AFP the claim was "a pretext" by to create "an uproar" in

A leader of the pro-Asaib Ahl al-Haq group, al-Azari, said the allegations were part of a "psychological war" by the

The two groups are key factions within the Shiite-dominated Hashed al-Shaabi organisation which played a key role in the battle to defeat the Islamic State jihadist group in

On Wednesday the ordered the evacuation of non-emergency staff from its Baghdad embassy, citing an "imminent" threat from Iranian-linked armed groups in

It came as tensions soared in the region amid a stand-off between and

The evacuation order, also covering the in Arbil, came 10 days after the deployed an and bombers to the Gulf to fend off an unspecified alleged plot by to attack US forces or allies.

Senior officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the threat came from "commanded and controlled" by

"It is directly linked to Iran, multiple threat streams directly linked to Iran," said one

"This is an imminent threat to our personnel," said a second

But Shomari dismissed the allegations, telling AFP the "is trying to create an uproar in Iraq and in the region under any pretext".

"If we put out a statement concerning the United States, they consider it a threat, but if the United States carries out an attack, isn't that a threat?," he added.

Azari echoed his remarks, saying the US claim and its recent action in the region "are a provocation aimed at escalating a psychological war" due to the prevailing tensions with

Shiite-majority Iraq has been under pressure from the US to limit its ties with neighbouring Iran, particularly after Washington last year withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal with and hit it with sanctions.

Iranian on Thursday accused the United States of an "unacceptable" escalation of tensions.

Zarif, who is in and is set to visit on Friday, said Iran was exercising "maximum restraint".

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, May 16 2019. 21:06 IST