Sources: Iran already has 5,000 troops fighting ISIL in Iraq


 WorldTribuneBAGHDAD — Iran is said to have deployed at least 5,000 troops in neighboring Iraq.

Kurdish sources said Islamic Revolutionary Guard has overseen the growing Iranian military presence in Iraq.

The sources said IRGC Quds Force was directing operations by Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias against Al Qaida’s Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant north of Baghdad.

Maj. Gen. Qassem Suleimani leads the IRGC Quds Force.

“The Quds Force is trained to organize terrorist groups and intervene in the affairs of other countries,” Hussein Yazdanpanah, deputy chief of the Kurdistan Freedom Party, said. “They have always been close around [Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri] Al Maliki.”

The sources said IRGC sent the first units in Iraq about a week after ISIL’s capture of Mosul on June 9. Within days, IRGC troops were deployed in such Iraqi cities as Baghdad, Diyala, Karbala Najaf and Samara.

Yazdanpanah said IRGC oversaw four types of forces in Iraq. He cited the special operations forces, called Qarargai Ramadhan, Abu Akram, Al Rashid and Mujahadeen.

“They are stationed in Diyala and Samara as well as in Muthana Airport and Baghdad International Airport,” Yazdanpanah said.

So far, the sources said, IRGC has sustained losses of scores of soldiers in battles with ISIL. Most of them were said to have been killed in fighting north of Samara in July.

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