Qods Force commander Major General Qassem Soleimani was also photographed in Baghdad with Popular Mobilization Committee chief Abu Mahdi al Muhandis and Imam Ali Brigade leader Shebl al Zaydi. The images contradict US official’s claims that Iran and its Shiite militia proxies are not involved in the Anbar counteroffensive.
Commander Jassem Nouri is likely a member of Qods Force, the external operations branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps Qods Force. He was advising Shiite militias, such as Hezbollah Brigades, who are engaged in fighting in Iraq’s Anbar province.
US officials and generals continue to downplay the involvement of Iranian-backed Shiite militias in offensives in Iraq, and their dominance of the Popular Mobilization Committee.
Iranian-supported militias, including Hezbollah Brigades, a US-listed Foreign Terrorist Organization, are advancing against the Islamic State east of Ramadi. The US is providing air support.
The Islamic State is attacking Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed Shiite militias that have regrouped at Habbaniyah, the last major city between Ramadi and Fallujah.
The Islamic State makes a push in Anbar’s capital and takes control of a district as Iraqi forces and Shiite militias are reportedly preparing an offensive in the western province.
The US has reversed its decision to avoid assisting Iranian-backed Shiite militias and is now providing direct air support in the battle for Tikrit. Many militia leaders and one militia fighting in Tikrit are on the US terrorism list.
A Human Rights Watch report says that the militias looted, burned thousands of buildings, and abducted at least 11 people during the Amerli offensive last summer. “The widespread burning of civilian homes by the militia groups in areas under their control appeared to have had no clear military objective and to represent collective punishment against residents of local Sunni villages,” HRW stated.