Photo: Reuters
US troops training Iraqis
Photo: Reuters

Report: American, Iranian soldiers sharing base in Iraq

BloombergView says US troops and Iran-backed Shiite militias are sharing the Taqqadum military base in Iraq; US officials reportedly concerned for their soldiers' safety.

The US military and Iranian-backed Shiite militias now share a base in Iraq to fight Islamic State, BloombergView reported on Monday, while Iran uses those same militias to expand its influence in Iraq and fight alongside the Bashar Assad regime in Syria.



According to the report, two senior administration officials confirmed that US soldiers and Shiite militia groups are both using the military base in Anbar, Iraq.


Shiite volunteers in the Iraqi desert (Archive Photo: Reuters)
Shiite volunteers in the Iraqi desert (Archive Photo: Reuters)

President Obama is sending an additional 450 US military personnel to the base to help train the local forces fighting against the Islamic State group.


Some inside the Obama administration are concerned that US soldiers may be at risk sharing the base. Some of the Iran-backed Shiite militias at the base have killed American soldiers in the past.


According to BloombergView, the US intelligence community has reported that representatives of some of the more extreme militias have been spying on US operations at Taqqadum.


Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Committee on  Armed Services, told BloombergView that sharing of the base is "an insult to the families of the American soldiers that were wounded and killed in battles in which the Shia militias were the enemy. Now, providing arms to them and supporting them, it’s very hard for those families to understand.”


US troops training Iraqi forces (Photo: Reuters)
US troops training Iraqi forces (Photo: Reuters)


Although the US is not directly training Shiite forces, known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, it is flying close air support missions for these forces.


The Americans only directly supply weapons to the Iraqi Security Forces, but sometimes the lines get blurred and weapons may fall into the hands of Iraqi militias.  


Cooperation is often more direct, as when Shiite militia commanders sit in on US military briefings, which are only meant for Iraqi security forces. Some form of coordination with terrorist groups who have killed American soldiers in Iraq is seen as inevitable as US tries to plan its attacks against IS.


Director of National Intelligence James Clapper confirmed earlier this month in a letter to Republican senators that "Iran and Hezbollah have also leveraged allied Iraqi Shiia militant and terrorist groups,  which receive training in Iran, to participate in pro-Assad operations" in Syria.


BloombergView further said that the US government formally asked the Iraqi government to promise that Shi'ite militias will not interfere with US military activity at the base, and that the request was accepted.


But there are still doubts as to how much control the Iraqi government in Baghdad exerts over the militias.


The special operations forces that the United States sent to Iraq after IS took over a sizeable part of the country have been active for 11 months, and until now they have not clashed with Iranian forces while fighting IS.  


פרסום ראשון: 06.23.15, 21:05
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