The head of an Iranian-supported Badr Organization said today that the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces have launched a new operation to secure areas along the Syrian-Iraqi border, Fars News Agency, which is affiliated with the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (I.R.G.C.), reported. Hadi al-Amiri also told reporters in Iraq that his forces and other P.M.F. groups are willing to go to Syria to fight the Islamic State if needed, but stressed that his forces would coordinate with the government of Bashar al-Assad for any operations inside Syria. “Iraq’s security will be maintained only if Syria’s security is preserved,” he emphasized. Amiri also claimed that efforts by the Syrian army and Iran-led forces to cut off the Islamic State’s supply lines inside Syria helped the P.M.F. forces a great deal to seize territory in western Mosul. “The P.M.F.’s access to the Syrian borders will also help the Syrian army to reach its own borders,” he emphasized, cautioning that his forces would not allow the U.S. military to interfere in who should police the Syrian-Iraqi border. Referring to the latest Riyadh summit, Amiri further claimed that Russia, Iran, Iraq and Syria have set up a joint committee to coordinate their efforts to counter designs by U.S. and its allies in the region.
Comment: The remarks by Amiri come as Iran-supported P.M.F. forces said yesterday they had seized several villages on the border with Syria from the Islamic State. The paramilitaries’ control of strategic areas and roads linking western Mosul to the Syrian border provides Iran a strategic supply route to send Iranian weapons and Iraqi militias to the Assad regime. But to link up the two sides the Syrian Army and Iran-led forces in Syria still have to clear and hold several areas in eastern Syria in order to reach the Iraqi border. While some of those regions leading to the Iraqi border are held by the Islamic State, others are controlled by the U.S.-backed Syrian rebel groups.