For months, US President Barack Obama and the Pentagon opposed the participation by pro-Iranian militias in the war against ISIS in Iraq.
The main objection were to the Popular Mobilization Army commanded by Iranian Gen. Abu Mahdi al Muhandis who has been named as a “specially designated global terrorist” by Washington.
The US was also against the Badr Organization (formerly the Badr Brigade) commanded by Hadi Al-Amiri from Iran’s Al Qods Brigades. These militias slaughtered the Sunni residents of cities that they recaptured from ISIS during the last year. As a result, many Sunni Iraqis preferred to be ruled by ISIS, and did not trust the coalition of US, Baghdad and Tehran.
But on May 22, with the start of the Iraqi attack on Fallujah, the capital of Anbar province in western Iraq, it became clear that the participation of pro-Iranian forces is no longer taboo for the US.
Even though Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced that 35,000 Iraqi troops launched an attack to liberate Fallujah from ISIS, DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources report that most of these forces are not participating in the assault.
It is spearheaded by the Popular Mobilization Army and the Badr Organization, and they are under the direct command of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, head of Iranian forces in Iraq and Syria, who is operating from a field command center.
The US air force is helping Soleimani’s attempt to capture Fallujah.
In a new exclusive photo showing the Iranian war room on the front, Soleimani is seen smoking a thick cigar with al-Muhandis on his left, leaning on a US map of the area of the battle.
Our military sources report that by assisting the offensive, which the Obama administration opposed for a long time, the Americans have actually given up on attacking Mosul, the ISIS capital in Iraq, any time soon.
Instead of liberating Mosul, Washington now prefers to place it under siege and gradually cause the collapse of ISIS rule.
The American decision to support Soleimani’s operation shows the central role played by Iran for the past few weeks in the wars carried out by the US and Russia in the Middle East.