As tensions mount between the Iraqi federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government, several Iranian-backed group have deployed more troops to contested areas near Kirkuk and Tuz Khurmatu. As both sides remain steadfast in their claims to the oil rich province, tensions continue to mount and the risk of military escalation rises.
An Iranian-controlled Afghan Shia militia advertises its role in the battle for Deir Ezzor in eastern Syria.
An Iraqi-Shiite militia controlled by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) claimed yesterday that its forces came under fire from American artillery shells in the vicinity of Jamouna, Syria. A US Defense spokesman rejected the allegation. The Islamic State posted footage of a raid in that area on the same day that shows the Shiite militia’s flag, strongly suggesting an attempt by the Shiite-jihadist militia to cover up an attack by the Sunni-jihadist group, muddy the waters and shift the blame to the United States.
Major powers involved in the Syrian war are racing to maximize gains from the crumbling Islamic State in southern and eastern Syria. The continued advancement of pro-Syrian regime forces and Iranian-backed militias toward the US-held Tanf base – as well as the potential advance of both sides toward the Iraqi border area – raise the risk of further clashes that may draw in the US and Russia, though the latter has been unwilling to challenge US strikes against a pro-regime convoy and Syrian warplanes this year.
The U.S. State Department on Friday announced the designation of two Bahraini nationals affiliated with Iran-backed militant group the Ashtar Brigades. The designation of the two individuals comes amidst repeated attempts by Tehran and its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to foment an insurgency against the rulers of the tiny island, who have launched a widespread crackdown on all Shiite opposition. Friday’s announcement signals a new tone in US policy towards Iran’s malign activities in the region.
The Iranian-backed Iraqi Shia militia has shown off a considerable troop deployment to the frontlines of Aleppo just days after Iranian media reported the move.