Iran positioning Shiite militias in Iraq as regional expeditionary force

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Source: Washington Times

Iran has positioned thousands of loyal Iraqi Shiite militia fighters around Mosul with a strategic goal of creating long-lasting armies inside Iraq that can also deploy as an expeditionary force to Syria, Yemen and other contested regions, analysts say.

The Iranian-sponsored Hezbollah Brigades, Badr Organization and other groups fall under the Baghdad-approved umbrella group known as the Popular Mobilization Forces. These mostly Shiite groups — some moderate, some extremists — are distinct from but coordinate with the Iraqi regular army, police and counterterrorism units. The ultimate goal is the same: Evict the Sunni extremist group Islamic State from the country.

But the Iranian-backed groups, guided by on-the-ground advisers from the Revolutionary Guard Corps’ notorious Quds force, have regional goals as well. They are geared toward what the U.S. intelligence community sees as Tehran’s desire to dominate the region and blunt American influence.

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