By John Hayward
The Wall Street Journal reported this week that Iraqi Shiite militia fighters are “pouring into Syria to reinforce the Assad regime’s siege of Aleppo, further complicating the tangled web of alliances the U.S. relies on to fight Islamic State, which can turn an ally on one side of the border into an enemy on the other.”
This is very literally the case with the Shiite brigades, who have been working alongside U.S.-backed Iraqi government troops in that country but are now shooting at U.S.-backed rebels in Syria.
The WSJ estimates over a thousand Shiite fighters rolled into Iraq in September, joining some 4,000 who were already deployed around besieged Aleppo. In fact, the Shiites make up fully half of Assad’s ground forces in the area.
Assad, and most of the Syrian ruling elite, are members of the Alawite sect of Shia Islam, and Assad is strongly aligned with the dominant Shiite power, Iran. Syria is a Sunni-majority nation. Iraq is also beset by sectarian problems, including fears that Shiite militia groups are extending Iran’s unhealthy influence in the country. Of course, the previous Sunni-dominated government of Saddam Hussein is not remembered fondly by Iraqi Shiites, who comprise a slight majority of the national population.
The Wall Street Journal notes that Iraqi Shiite forces are fighting alongside Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Hezbollah militia from Lebanon, and even Afghan Shiite troops in Aleppo, filling in the manpower gaps created by Assad’s defeats and defections in earlier years of the Syrian civil war.
SOURCES: News Now/Breitbart Online