Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Iranian-backed militias escalating attacks on U.S. troops In Iraq

From the AP:
American forces are facing an increasingly dangerous environment in southern Iraq, where Shiite militias trying to claim they are driving out the U.S. occupiers have stepped up attacks against bases and troops...

U.S. soldiers [are coming] under attack from rockets or mortars on their bases, and from roadside bombs and shootings when they're moving around the country.

Michael Knights, of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy..., who writes extensively about security issues in Iraq, said.. "the increase in attacks shows that Iranian-backed cells enjoy greater freedom of movement than they have in the past. They have increased confidence in their ability to engage U.S. forces in stand-up firefights in broad daylight," he said...

[The militants] hope to rally support among the mostly poor Shiite population in the south and gain influence after the American military goes home...

They are believed to get financing and support from Iran, according to a recent report from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

U.S. officials have long contended that Shiite militias operate with funding and weapons funneled in from Iran...

The weapons go from the Diyala River Valley along the Iranian border northeast of Baghdad to the southern Iraqi port of Umm Qasr on the Persian Gulf, said a U.S. military official speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information.

Buses carrying Iranian religious pilgrims into Iraq are possibly used to smuggle weapons as well, the official said.

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