Brennan may have made the strongest comments from any US official but his comments followed those of others in Iraq and out of Iraq in recent days. The objection to these forces has grown so strong -- especially as the reports of human rights abuses (War Crimes) taking place have grown -- that the Council of Ministers issued a statement denying any Iranians are in Iraq. Rudaw reports, "Iraq’s Council of Ministers on Monday denied there were any foreign combat forces in the country, reacting to reports that Iranian forces have been fighting alongside the Iraqi Army in the war with ISIS."
The denial was in response to statements made on Sunday by a Kurdish MP. Rudaw reports:
At least 30,000 Iranian soldiers and military experts are in Iraq and involved in the fight against ISIS, a Kurdish lawmaker in the Iraqi parliament said Sunday, calling it a “threat to Iraq’s sovereignty.”
“At least 30,000 soldiers and military experts from the Islamic Republic of Iran are fighting ISIS militants in Iraq,” Shakhawan Abdullah, head of the parliamentary security and defense committee, told Rudaw.
Their denial indicates that either the Council of Ministers is composed of a pack of liars or else they're not in touch with their colleague who serves as the Minister of Transportation.
AFP spoke with that minister yesterday, Hadi al-Ameri, who is currently serving in the (illegal) capacity of "commander of the Badr militia" and al-Ameri couldn't stop singing the praises of Iranian Qassem Soleimani (identified by the US government as a terrorist) who is there, in Iraq, "whenever we need him," according to al-Ameri. AFP notes:
Soleimani has advised Iraqi forces in multiple operations against ISIS, which led a major offensive last June that overran large areas north and west of Baghdad.
In doing so, he and other Iranian advisers provide the kind of forward support during operations that U.S. President Barack Obama has yet to authorize American forces to undertake.
And others are disturbed by Iran's involvement as well. Sherine Tadros (Sky News) reports:
Iraq's vice president Iyad Allawi has told Sky News that Iran's involvement in his country is unacceptable and is failing to push Islamic State fighters back.Speaking from his office in Baghdad, Mr Allawi said he was very concerned about Iran's increasing influence on the militias fighting the war against IS in Iraq.
He said: "I think the role of any regional power or any power in Iraq's affairs is unacceptable."
Saturday, the editorial board of the Washington Post observed:
The Obama administration, focused on completing a nuclear deal with Iran and eager to minimize direct U.S. involvement in the latest Iraq war, has played down the militia menace. While not supporting the attack on Tikrit with airstrikes, senior officials have characterized it as a positive development. Such statements suppose that a force including commanders and units on the State Department’s global terrorism list and steered by an Iranian general who previously directed attacks on U.S. troops will somehow advance the aim of reconstructing a multiethnic Iraq.In fact, a new report from Human Rights Watch documents how Shiite militias have pursued a brutal scorched-earth policy in areas already liberated from the Islamic State. After U.S. airstrikes drove Islamic State forces out of the town of Amerli, in northeastern Iraq, late last summer, the militias went on a sectarian rampage, burning and bulldozing thousands of homes and other buildings in dozens of Sunni villages. The intent was to violently alter the demography of once ethnically diverse areas so that Shiites could dominate them.
On the topic of human rights abuses (War Crimes), we'll note this Tweet:
In other violence, Vivian Salama (AP) reports 3 Baghdad bombings have left 19 people dead and thirty-six injured.
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