Iranian Qods Force still active in Iraq

Qods Force logo, click to view.

With a sharp reduction in the deadly landmine attacks used by the Iranian-backed Shia terrorists known as the Special Groups, a debate has raged over whether Iran has worked to reduce the number of attacks inside Iraq. The newly released Department of Defense report, Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq, refutes the notion that Iran has eased the pressure. In fact, the report states that Iran has continued to fund, arm, and train the Special Groups fighters bound for Iraq, despite a pledge by Iran’s president.

In late September, Iranian President Ahmadinejad pledged to Prime Minister Maliki to help cut off weapons, funding and other militia and insurgent support that crosses the Iranian border. There has been no identified decrease in Iranian training and funding of illegal Shia militias in Iraq. Tehran’s support for Shia militant groups who attack Coalition and Iraq forces remains a significant impediment to progress towards stabilization. The Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) provides many of the explosives and ammunition used by these groups, to include Jaish al-Mahdi (JAM). Although Sadr’s late August 2007 freeze on JAM activity is still in effect, some elements continue to attack Coalition forces with Iranian weapons. The GoI (Government of Iraq) and the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq have made it clear to the Iranian Government that IRGC-QF’s lethal activities must cease.

Multinational Forces Iraq goes on to state the reduction in attacks is due to efforts to target the Iranian networks, trainers and ratlines. “This reduction may be attributed to effective interdiction of EFP [explosively formed projectile] networks, death or capture of EFP facilitators, seizure of caches and other factors.”

Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces began heavily targeting the leadership of the Ramazan Corps in late 2006. Numerous commanders, including a Ramazan Corps regional commander, a senior Hezbollah leader assigned to establish the Special Groups, and several regional Special Groups commanders have been captured or killed. Numerous raids have been conducted against local leaders, facilitators, and cells. Most recently, Coalition forces have targeted Ramazan Corps trainers inside Iraq.

Iran’s Qods Force created the Ramazan Corps as a command designed to specifically conduct operations in Iraq. Split into three sub-commands, the Ramazan Corps recruits, trains, arms, and funds the Special Groups, which include elements of Muqtada al Sadr’s Mahdi Army.

A host of senior generals, diplomats, and policy experts believe Iran has effectively cut support for the Iranian cells operating in Iraq. Major General James Simmons, the Deputy Commander for Multinational Forces Iraq, Iraqi spokesman Ali al Dabbagh, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, and the Brookings Institution’s Michael O’Hanlon have stated the Iranian government has dialed back the attacks inside Iraq.

But military commanders engaged in the fight against the Iranian networks disagree. Major General Rick Lynch, the Commander of Multinational Division Central, Colonel Don Farris, the commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division based in the heart of Sadr City in Baghdad, Colonel Mark Mueller, the commander of the border transition team in Wasit province, and Colonel Peter Mansoor, an adviser to General David Petraeus, have all expressed skepticism that Iran has cut its activities in Iraq.

Read Iran’s Ramazan Corps and the ratlines into Iraq for a detailed account of Iran’s activities in Iraq.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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7 Comments

  • Richard says:

    The US forces must start hitting the Iranian forces inside Iran. The US forces know where the bases are located inside Iran, so go chop the head off the snake. You do not kill a snake nipping at it’s tail.
    Maybe I am irrational since I have no military background. Can some of the experienced military posters explain the pro’s and con’s of taking out the Iranian forces inside Iran. Thank you.

  • David M says:

    The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the – Web Reconnaissance for 12/20/2007 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day…so check back often.

  • Richard says:

    Exposing our troops to counter attacks? The are already being attacked by Iranian weapons and special agents. Maybe I am missing something and do not completely understand military fighting but if someone is attacking you, you should counter attack with unbelievable lethal force. If that means counter attacking with special operations inside Iran where the Ramazan Corp stages along the border or just flying F16’s over with a few 500 lb nuggets on their heads. Hitting these rat bastards where they stage will make them think twice about their actions.

  • ST333 says:

    I’d like to know what assets we have in Iran. I think if they continue to send support to Iraq, we need to make things go BOOM in Iran so they learn that two can play that game. Helicopters need to fall out of their skies, maybe a ship or two is heavily damaged in their ports and maybe even a bus load of troops heading to their staging area need to experience IED’s for themselves. I think then they would really make an effort to stop the flow of support to Iraq. If they experience no retaliation, why would they stop meddling in Iraq?

  • Martino says:

    We are in a lousy situation. Iran’s general population is one of the few, if not the only, Islamic country that has a majority with a favorable view of the U.S. There are forces inside Iran that are trying to stoke opposition as we speak. But that process is painfully slow. If we start bombing Iran, it could backfire on what small flame is burning for the opposition. But what about our troops? Don’t they deserve instant and lethal protection? My answer — yes. That’s why I’m glad I’m not the CiC today.
    So, do we blockade Iran’s ports, thereby choking them off very quickly? These things (sanctions, etc.) tend to only hurt those with whom we have the common interest of getting rid of the Mad Mullahs. The elite never suffer from these things. So, in my humble opinion, we should “quietly” take out as many Iranian Qods as possible and even drop a little ord. from a UAV that happens to be in the area. For all we know, these things are happening. If we are frustrated sitting in our heated and a/c homes and offices, imagine what our guys are going through over there.
    It’s enough to make you want to see if our ICBMs are up to snuff — literally.

  • Hamidreza says:

    Capture a few mules and EFPs on their way into Iraq – make some well evidenced PR capital out of that. Next time it happens, send a few GMLRS into Khuzestan province and hit Qods bases and power plants and transmission substations. Maybe even Bushehr. Russians would love to see a new billion dollar contract to repair the Bushehr nuke plant.

  • sahakawa says:

    Unfortunately, hitting Bushehr is out of the question now since the Russians have delivered the fuel. As it has been noted elsewhere the Israelis made sure to hit Saddam’s nuclear plant at Osirak before the French delivered the fuel so as not to spread radioactive contanimation far and wide.
    Perhaps disable Bushehr with an EMP?
    The Iranian Qods must pay a price at their terrorist training facilities–a price in blood. They do “need to experience IEDs for themselves”. Our troops are not expendible pawns. It sickens me to hear of our troops being injured or killed by Iranian munitions with no effective response. If the declaration of war from Syia and Iran was answered unequivocally in 2004 we’d be years ahead of where we are and they would hiding under the porch like wounded dogs.

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