After President Donald Trump revealed that US forces are
present in Sunni cities and several Iraqi provinces "to watch Iran,"
observers said that the US forces are also preparing for imminent major
confrontation with the Iranian gangs in Iraq.
IMIS media accounts and Iran's state-backed news channel Press TV released a video allegedly showing the IMIS militia stopping the US patrol. The footage showed armored vehicles with IMIS green flags blocking a road as armed men in military uniform, claimed to be US troops, passed by, Voice of America reported.
This is not the first time the Iran-backed militants in Iraq claim to have challenged the US troops in Iraq. IMIS last month claimed it prevented another US survey in Anbar province. The US-led coalition told VOA then that the operation, which was coordinated with the Iraqi security forces occurred without incident.
The US-led coalition fighting against ISIS in Syria and Iraq Monday denied it faced a head-to-head encounter with IMIS in Nineveh province.
"The patrol referenced was routine and there was no confrontation," Col. Sean Ryan, a spokesperson for the US-led coalition, told VOA in an email.
"The coalition is here at the invitation of the Iraqi government and this was coordinated with the Iraqi Security Forces," he said.
The coalition spokesperson did not disclose more information about the operation.
Abu Jaffar al-Shabaki, the head of IMIS's 30th Brigade, in a press conference Saturday said the US troops were surveying Mosul city and filming neighborhoods with video recorders.
He alleged IMIS fighters stopped the survey operation after US troops reached the Presidential Palace area near the Mosul Hotel where an IMIS headquarter is based.
"These patrols reveal the presence of US ground troops in Iraq, contrary to what is claimed as otherwise by some," said al-Shabaki, warning that "any future move of the US forces will have serious repercussions, and cannot be accepted at all."
Ridwan al-Anzi, the deputy head of IMIS's Nineveh Operations, claimed the US troops ended their survey operation after IMIS warned them and blocked the road leading into the Presidential Palace area.
"Our response created a state of observable panic and extreme fear among them, which led them to request air cover in anticipation of any action against them," Anzi said in the press conference Saturday.