The Shiite Badr Brigade, backed by Iran, at a funeral for a dead fighter. AP photo.
ERBIL, Iraqi Kurdistan- At least 30,000 Iranian soldiers and military experts are in Iraq and involved in the fight against ISIS, a Kurdish lawmaker in the Iraqi parliament said Sunday, calling it a “threat to Iraq’s sovereignty.”
“At least 30,000 soldiers and military experts from the Islamic Republic of Iran are fighting ISIS militants in Iraq,” Shakhawan Abdullah, head of the parliamentary security and defense committee, told Rudaw.
Shiite Iran has been actively involved in neighbor Iraq’s security issues, since ISIS overran large parts of the country with the aim of establishing a Sunni-Islamic caliphate.
Abdulla said the formidable Iranian presence in the country is a “threat to Iraq’s sovereignty.” He explained that, “Although their presence in Iraq has been known, especially after the Tikrit operation, some of them dress up as Iraqi Shiite militants from the Hashd al-Shaabi militia.”
Iraqi Shiite militias have admitted that Iran is their main provider of weapons, ammunition and supplies for militias working with the Iraqi Army in the fight against ISIS.
Qasem Soleimani, head of the elite Iranian Quds force, is reportedly directing tens of thousands of Shiite militia fighters in battles against ISIS in the predominately-Sunni city of Tikrit.
Abdulla criticized the Iraqi president for allowing Iranian involvement in Iraq’s war against ISIS, saying that, “according to Iraqi law, the protection of national sovereignty is the president’s constitutional duty.”
In a short video posted on YouTube earlier this month Soleimani, who has commanded immense influence in Iraq for many years, is seen giving religious advice, apparently to Iraqi Army forces and militiamen fighting for Tikrit.