A senior advisor to the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps – Qods Force vowed that Iranian forces would continue to fight in Iraq and Syria until the last Islamic State and “takfiri” fighters are killed.
The statement, which was made by Brigadier General Iraj Masjedi, signals the entrenchment of Iranian military assets in Iraq and Syria and the two countries continue to be mired in civil wars. Masjedi serves as a senior advisor to Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani, who has directed Iran’s intervention in Iraq and Syria and has organized Shia militias to battle the Islamic State, Al Nusrah Front (al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria), and other jihadist and rebel groups.
Masjedi delivered remarks earlier today at the 40-day commemoration of the deaths of the 13 Guardsmen from the IRGC’s 25th Karbala Division who were killed in the Syrian town of Khan Touman, south of Aleppo. The ceremony was held in Sari, Iran.
“Aleppo, Fallujah, and other areas in Syria and Iraq are the front lines of the Islamic resistance, and as the defenders of the shrine, Iranian Guardsmen [IRGC] and Basijis [a paramilitary force loyal to the IRGC] will stay in these fronts until the killing of the last of the takfiris and DAISH [Islamic State],” Masjedi proclaimed.
Iranian forces are engaged in fighting “to defend the borders of our country,” and accused Saudi Arabia and Israel of backing the Islamic State “to conquer Iraq and Syria with the goal of getting close to the borders of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Masjedi said.
He also said that Iranian forces are battling the Islamic State and other jihadists “alongside other brothers from Islamic countries including Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Lebanon.” Lebanese Hezbollah has committed significant resources to support the Syrian region, while Shia fighters from Afghanistan and Pakistan also are known to fight in both Iraq and Syria.
Masjedi noted that “a united Islamic resistance front,” likely a reference to Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces – which are backed by the government and led by a Qods Force agent – has secured all Shia areas of Iraqi.
“Karbala, Najaf, Kazemein, and Samarra are secure with the presence of Islamic resistance forces,” he continued. Qods Force has helped establish numerous Iraqi militias, many of who are openly loyal to Soleimani and Iran’s supreme leader. Some militia leaders have indicated that they want the Popular Mobilization Forces to serve as the nucleus to an Iraqi analogue of the IRGC.
The “Islamic resistance front” has “completely surrounded” Islamic State forces in Fallujah, according to Masjedi. Iraqi forces are said to have seized Fallujah’s government center today. The government has claimed that the Shia militas will not participate in the battle for Fallujah, however Popular Mobilization Forces units have been spotted in numerous locations around Fallujah.
“The fight against DAISH and takfiris will be long and hard,” Masjedi concluded, preparing his audience for a protracted fight in Iraq and Syria. “This is an urban, irregular, and guerrilla warfare. We must be present in the scene to defend our ideological movement until the killing of the last of the DAISH.”
Iran has benefited from the ongoing chaos and civil wars in Iraq and Syria to increase its military footprint in the countries.