The U.S. military is taking measures in the Iraqi province of al-Anbar close to the Syrian border to counter the growing influence of the Popular Mobilization Forces (P.M.F.), reports Fars News Agency, which is affiliated with the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (I.R.G.C.). According to the Iranian outlet, the U.S. military seeks to push back against the P.M.F.’s territorial gains because Washington and its allies see the Iraqi paramilitary forces as “Iran’s operational arm” in Iraq and Syria. According to Fars, the U.S. military has deployed its forces to the al-Anbar desert region in close proximity to al-Tanf crossing in Syria, where the U.S. and its allies are advising Syrian rebel forces to fight the Islamic State. The report also accuses the U.S. military of aiding the Islamic State.
Comment: With the Islamic State on the verge of defeat in Iraq, the I.R.G.C. and its Iraqi militia proxies have recently dialed up propaganda against the U.S. military, which poses security risks to U.S. military advisers that are helping the Iraqi security forces in the country. I.R.G.C.-affiliated media outlets regularly run news stories or interviews with P.M.F. leaders accusing the American military of aiding the Islamic State both in Iraq and Syria. “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is a protégé of America. His actions and movements are supervised by this country’s [U.S.] intelligence service,” Ali al-Husseini, who is also a commander of Iraqi Shiite militia group al-Hashd al-Turkmani, said an interview with I.R.G.C.-affiliated Tasnim News Agency. The militia leader further alleged that American forces in Iraq were trying to transfer Islamic State fighters from Iraq to Syria and Libya. Recently, P.M.F. commanders have also been pressuring the Baghdad government to limit the role of the American military in anti-Islamic State operations. Last week, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said Iran opposes the presence of American forces in Iraq and urged Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi not to rely on Washington. “Do not trust the Americans under any circumstances because they are waiting for an opportunity to do harm,” Khamenei said in a meeting with the visiting Iraqi prime minister in Tehran. The Iranian leader also urged the Baghdad government not to dissolve the P.M.F. once the Islamic State is defeated in Iraq.