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Iranian General With US Blood On His Hands Formally Invited By Iraq To Help Fight ISIS

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Russ Read Pentagon/Foreign Policy Reporter
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Not only is Iran participating in the battle for the Iraqi city of Fallujah, reports claim the Iraqi government formally requested assistance from the notorious Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani.

The battle for Fallujah, which officially began over the weekend, is the most recent major operation in the fight against Islamic State in Iraq. Various forces are participating in the battle, including elements of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs) and Maj. Gen. Soleimani, the head of Iran’s Qods Force.

The revelation Soleimani was formally requested by Iraq symbolizes the remarkable influence Iran has in the country, and how the influence of the U.S. may be waning. Iran, once Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s mortal enemy, has solidified itself as a major influence in Iraqi politics, especially since the U.S. withdrawal in 2011.

Soleimani has been an integral factor in Iran’s popularity among the majority Shia population in Iraq. He is known to have once said “we’re [Iran] not like the Americans. We don’t abandon our friends.”

As commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Qods Force, Soleimani is in charge of all Iranian covert operations in the Middle East, which once included arming Iraqi insurgents with deadly explosively-formed projectiles (EFPs) that are known to have killed and maimed hundreds, if not thousands, of U.S. military personnel. That said, Soleimani has claimed his role is more than that of just a covert operative, he claims to “control the policy for Iran with respect to Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza and Afghanistan.”

Once a relatively mysterious figure, Soleimani is now an almost mythical folk hero among Shia Muslim fighters. He commands respect from both Iranians and Iraqis, and even has his own music video. Snagging a selfie with the general has now become a prized opportunity.

Soleimani’s presence in the Fallujah fight puts the U.S. in a difficult position. U.S. and coalition forces participating in Operation Inherent Resolve are actively providing air support to the Fallujah assault force which is being advised by a man who undoubtedly has American blood on his hands. In addition, Soleimani’s presence could further cement Iranian influence in the Iraqi government and military, which could make it difficult for U.S. advisers going forward.

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