Iraqi militia leader with Esmail Ghaani Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai:An Iranian government spokesman said on Sunday that Iran has not asked its allies in the region to respond to the US killing of Iranian Revolutionary Guards Chief Qassem Soleimani.

The comments appear to downplay speculation that Iraqi militias would attack US interests in Iraq or that Lebanese Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasralalh, would try to attack Israel.

However, leaders of Iraq’s Hashed Al Shaabi, a pro-Iranian Shiite militia with sweeping powers, were pictured with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Chief, Esmail Ghaani.

The pictures indicate a continuation of the militia’s loyalty to Iran and an intention by Tehran to keep supporting proxy militias in the region.

The leaders are seen holding hands in many of the pictures.

After a series of tit-for-tat attacks between the US and Iran last week, the attention has turned to Iraq’s pro-Iranian proxy militias.

The US killed Soleimani last week. In response, Iran attacked two US bases but there were no casualties.

Now the battle, will seemingly shift to Iraq, where pro-Iranian militias are vowing to take revenge for the killing of not only Soleimani, but Hashed leader Abu Mahdi Al Muhandis, who was killed in the same strike as Soleimani.

Iran-backed Iraqi militia commander Qais al-Khazali said last week that Iran had made its initial response for the United States killing its top general, and it was now time for Iraq to do so as well.

Iraq’s response will not be lesser than that of Iran’s tweeted Khazaili, who leads the Asaib Ahl al-Haq group which the United States has designated a terrorist organisation.

“Now it is time for the initial response to the assassination of the martyred commander Muhandis. And because Iraqis are brave and zealous, their response will not be any less than that or Iran’s. That is a promise,” he said.

Just because the United States and Iran have struck each other directly does not mean the Hashed would now sit on the sidelines, Erica Gaston of the New America Foundation, told the AFP.

“There isn’t perfect command-and-control in the Hashed, which includes a lot of angry militiamen willing to take revenge on the US,” she added.