Intelligence Sources Say Iran Is “Pissed” at United States Over Actions in Tikrit
Since March 2nd, Iraqi security forces have been fighting their way across the Sunni city of Tikrit, which has been occupied by ISIS terrorists since last year. Initially, the Iraqi forces included, along with the Iraqi Army, a large contingent of Shiite militia, supported and supplied by Iran. The battle stalled after three weeks, and at the request of the Iraqi government the U.S. initiated airstrikes. There have been seventeen strikes in the last few days.
An intelligence official told Fox News that Iran’s government is fuming over the U.S. joining forces with Iraq in the fight for Tikrit — a decision that led Iran-backed militias to stand down.
“They are really pissed that Iraq is choosing to partner with the U.S. in the battle for Tikrit,” the official said.
The heavy involvement of Iran-backed Shiite militias in the battle for Tikrit, currently held by the Islamic State, was a big factor in the United States’ initial reluctance to get involved.
But with the U.S. launching airstrikes, Iran has threatened to order all its Shiite militias, including members of the powerful Badr Brigade, out of the area and in some cases out of Iraq, according to the official.
“They will probably send them to Yemen,” he said, referring to the widespread fighting in the unstable nation where Saudi Arabia and others are now battling Iran-backed forces for control.
But when asked to characterize the feeling inside the Pentagon about Iran’s pull-back in Tikrit, the official answered, “We are pleasantly surprised how pissed off they are.”
While the Iran-backed militias say they withdrew in protest, the Defense Department has maintained that was a precondition of U.S. involvement.
General Lloyd Austin, head of U.S. Central Command, briefed members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He told them the Iraqi government agreed, prior to any airstrikes, that the Iran-backed Shiite militias would withdraw before the Americans would participate.
“I will not, and I hope we never, coordinate or cooperate with Shiite militias,” Austin said.
A spokesman for the militias asserted that his forces were boycotting the operation of their own volition, not under American pressure.
“[The U.S.] involvement is potentially harmful to the operation,” militia spokesman Mouin al-Kadhimy told the Associated Press. “We are capable of liberating Tikrit without the help of American forces.”