Qais al-Khazali, a top commander in Iraq's Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary network said on Wednesday that it was time for an Iraqi response to the US drone strike that killed the network's deputy chief, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. In a tweet, he said, “The response will be no less than the size of the Iranian response. That is a promise."
On January 3, a US drone strike killed al-Muhandis along with Iran's Maj. General Qassem Soleimani and six others. The White House and the Pentagon later confirmed the deaths saying that the attack was directed by US President Donald Trump.
Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was buried in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf earlier on Wednesday. Thousands of Iraqis packed the streets of Basra on Tuesday to mourn the death of mIlitary leader Jamal Jaafar Ibrahimi, known as Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, killed last week by a US airstrike alongside his Iranian mentor Qassem Soleimani.
On Tuesday, about 30,000 people thronged the streets of Basra waving Iraqi and militia flags and chanting “No, no America!” and “No, no Israel!”. Shi’ite cleric Muhsin al-Hakeem said that they will avenge the deaths of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and Soleimani by forcing American troops to leave Iraq.
Muhandis fought for decades alongside Qassem Soleimani and other Iraqi prominent leaders such as Hadi al-Amiri who is the most likely candidate to succeed him. In a video that he left to be shared after his death, Muhandis called the supporters to perpetuate jihad. Thousands of mourners took part in a funeral procession in Karbala on Saturday for Iran's top general and Iraqi militant leaders who were killed in a US airstrike a day earlier. Footage showed the arrival of draped coffins holding the bodies of the victims, including Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of the Iran-backed Popular Mobilisation Forces.