Troops from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard are already operating in Iraq, fighting alongside Iraqi forces against a lightning military offensive driven by ultra-violent Sunni Islamists.
The Wall Street Journal reports that two battalions of Quds Forces, Iran’s foreign-deployed special forces who are already battling Islamist rebels across Syria, have been redeployed to the central Iraqi town of Tikrit — the birthplace of Saddam Hussein just 100 miles from the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.
Representatives from the two Shi’ite Muslim governments confirmed that joint Iraqi-Iranian forces recaptured around 85 percent of Tikrit from Sunni fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which had rolled into town just a few hours previously.
The news of collaboration between a nominal American ally and a longtime archenemy comes as the Iraqi state unravels. On Tuesday, the northern city of Mosul — Iraq’s second-largest — fell to ISIS, sparking a massive humanitarian crisis as up to 500,000 people fled the bloodthirsty terror group.
Reports indicate that the Iraqi military abandoned their posts without firing a shot, leaving behind large caches of military equipment paid for with U.S. taxpayer dollars. ISIS has since repurposed this equipment for their ongoing sweep south to Baghdad.
The terror group is already alleged to have carried out mass beheadings of Shi’a “infidels” and has promised to march on the Shi’ite holy cities of Najaf and Karbala — likely prompting Iran to rush to the aid of their co-religionists.
In addition to deploying special forces to buttress a collapsing Iraqi military, Iran has fortified its western border and warned ISIS they will bomb any forces coming within 62 miles of its frontier.
Iraq has also requested U.S. assistance in the face of the implacable ISIS advance, reportedly requesting American airstrikes against armored terrorist columns.
President Obama says he “[doesn’t] rule out anything” in terms of assistance to the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. And on Thursday morning Vice President Joe Biden spoke with Maliki, promising to “intensify and accelerate” U.S. support for Iraq’s security forces.
Neither the Iranian or American governments appear to have yet reacted to the fact that they are both supporting the Iraqi government — an odd turn for two nations locked in a cold war for the last 35 years.