IRAN has sent special forces and elite troops to Iraq to bolster efforts by the government to halt the advance of militants.
According to Theaustralian, a 150-man unit of the Quds Force, the elite section of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, has deployed to Iraq, supported by a team of Saberin, Iran’s equivalent of the SAS. They will assist Iraqi forces as they regroup after the loss of Mosul and Tikrit.
With troops already fighting in Syria to defend the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, Iran’s decision to send soldiers into Iraq underscores its concern that another key ally is under threat.
Iran backs the Shia-dominated government of the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki.
It has been dismayed at Iraq’s failure to quell the Sunni insurgency led by al-Qa’ida offshoot the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham. The fall of Mosul brings the insurgency to within 400km of Iran’s borders.
The Iranian troops are led by General Hasan Gohari, a veteran of the Iran-Iraq War and a close confidant of Tehran’s powerful spy chief, Qassem Suleimani. It is understood that the Iranian troops were deployed at the weekend, before the capture of Mosul.
Iraqi authorities must hit back hard and fast in Mosul, before ISIS has a chance to erect defences.