The Iranian regime’s military involvement has dramatically increased in Iraq over the past year, the Washington Post reported citing U.S., Iraqi and Iranian sources.
A senior Iranian cleric with close ties to Tehran’s leadership, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss security matters, said that since the Islamic State’s capture of much of northern Iraq in June, Iran has sent more than 1,000 military advisers to Iraq, as well as elite units, and has conducted airstrikes and spent more than $1 billion on military aid.
The Washington Post report adds: “While the departure of U.S. troops in 2011 provided space for Iran to expand its influence in Iraq, Tehran’s support for paramilitary groups has intensified since the appearance of the Sunni militant group.”
Reports of abuses by Shiite militiamen have increased in recent months, raising fears that militia death squads that helped fuel past sectarian violence are on the march.
American officials are also watching to see whether Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has the political clout to hold his unity government together and keep paramilitary forces in check.
The report by the Washington Post comes days after the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) said in a statement that there are currently thousands of Iranian Revolutionary Guards stationed in a number of Iraqi cities to help Tehran regime to compensate its loss in Iraq after the ouster of former Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
The guards that are estimated to be over 7000 are stationed in Baghdad, Diyala and Salah ad-Din provinces and the cities of Samarra, Karbala, Najaf, Khaneqain, Sa’adiyah and Jaloula. They include commanders and experts that accompany the militias in various areas of Iraq, the statement said.