Source: LA Times
In a significant break with past policy, U.S.-led forces in Iraq have started arming and training hundreds of fighters belonging to Shiite militias historically known for having ties to Iran.
The sectarian militias are being trained for the operation to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul. While Mosul’s future remains uncertain, the cooperative effort is expected to strengthen the Shiite forces both militarily and politically.
The U.S.-led coalition has provided hundreds of guns and training to the fighters in recent weeks, indicating a new level of cooperation, although U.S. military officials quickly moved to downplay it, saying the fighters currently being trained have no ties to the Iranian-backed groups that targeted Americans in the past.
“We only train forces we can vet,” said Col. John Dorrian, the U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad. “You assess to make sure they don’t have association with terrorist groups, or groups associated with the government of Iran. They must be with groups that promote respect for human rights and rule of law.”