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Tags: Iranian | Shiite | militias | air

Report: Iranians Already Battling ISIS Forces in Iraq

Report: Iranians Already Battling ISIS Forces in Iraq
Iranian elite Revolutionary Guard special forces. (AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Wednesday, 10 September 2014 08:44 PM

While President Barack Obama focuses on an international coalition to fight Islamic State (ISIS) militants, Iran has already sent forces into Iraq to help beat back the terrorist group, Foreign Policy reports.

Aiming to block the Sunni-led militants from gaining a foothold in Iraq, Tehran's Shiite government is providing weapons, intelligence, and military advisers to Baghdad, as well as fighters to battle alongside the Iraqi military, the report says.

Quoting unnamed U.S. officials, Foreign Policy said Iran has at times had hundreds of ground forces fighting alongside Iraqi soldiers and militiamen.

Foreign Policy points to a photo of Maj. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, head of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps' elite Quds Force, on the ground in the Iraqi town of Amerli after stopping an Islamic State siege there.

The photo "hinted that he might be playing a more hands-on role and had helped direct operations straight from the battlefield," Foreign Policy reports.

The operation at Amerli was also noteworthy because of the team that formed to battle the militants: Iraqi security forces, Shiite militias, Iranian operatives on the ground — and U.S. air power taking out targets with airstrikes, Foreign Policy reports.

"We have been clear that ISIL represents a threat not only to the United States, but also — and most immediately — to the entire region," Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said in an email to Foreign Policy.

The Islamic State is referred to as both ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) and ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant).

"We believe all countries, regardless of their differences, should work toward the goal of degrading and ultimately defeating ISIL."

The United States and Iran could work together without formally coordinating their operations, Foreign Policy reports, noting that in Amerli, the militias relayed their operational plans to the Iraqi commanders overseeing the fight, who in turn passed the information to U.S. officials running the air campaign.

The Pentagon's latest tally for U.S. troops in Iraq is 1,192. Foreign Policy said the number of Iranian forces is thought to be in the several hundreds.

"You don't have a reliable estimate on the U.S. or the Iranians, because the numbers that we have do not include people who are involved in sensitive programs," Anthony Cordesman, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Foreign Policy.

But he said the Iranian presence in Iraq has been "confined almost completely to advisers, arms transfers, support from [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] trainers, but you've not had any significant Iranian ground presence and you have not had Iranian ground units."

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Newsfront
While President Barack Obama focuses on an international coalition to fight Islamic State (ISIS) militants, Iran has already sent forces into Iraq to help beat back the terrorist group, Foreign Policy reports.
Iranian, Shiite, militias, air
424
2014-44-10
Wednesday, 10 September 2014 08:44 PM
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