Small Wars Journal

Iran-Backed Militias Work to Drive U.S. From Iraq

Iran-Backed Militias Work to Drive U.S. From Iraq by Adam Lucente - Washington Times

MULLA QARAH, Iraq — The crisscrossing agendas facing Iraq — pressured by the U.S. and Iran while trying to set up a functioning government in Baghdad and preventing a revival of the Islamist terrorism that nearly broke the country apart — were on stark display during a nighttime skirmish this month.

 

Soldiers from the Popular Mobilization Forces — largely Shiite Muslim militias strongly backed by Tehran — were traveling from Mosul to Kirkuk when Islamic State militants attacked their convoy near the disputed Iraqi-Kurdish city of Makhmour. Six died, and 31 people from the predominantly ethnic Turkmen unit were injured in the shooting.

 

After the attack, forces near Makhmour asked the U.S.-led coalition to bomb Qarachokh mountain, where the Islamic State fighters hide in caves between Iraq and the autonomous Kurdistan Region’s military bases. The coalition bombed later that night, said Col. Srud Barzanji, who commands Kurdish peshmerga soldiers in Mulla Qarah, near Makhmour.

 

Like many of Iraq’s Kurds, Col. Barzanji thinks the U.S. military should stay in the country to help fight the Islamic State, which is taking another look at its sanctuaries in Iraq as the last remnants of its “caliphate” in neighboring Syria fall to the U.S. and its allies…

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