Republican Nominee Donald Trump, when asked about the ongoing U.S.-backed offensive to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul from the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) during the final presidential debate, said terror-sponsor of terrorism Iran will ultimately “benefit” from the operation.
“Iran is taking over Iraq,” added the GOP presidential nominee while debating his Democratic nemesis Hillary Clinton for the third and final time during the ongoing campaign, which is near its end.
Trump’s comments came as the United States military is collaborating with Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), Kurdish Peshmerga troops, and thousands of Shiite militias known as the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), including some backed by Iran, to recapture Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city and the last major ISIS stronghold in the country.
Some of the Shiite militias deployed to Iraq reportedy include members of Iran’s narco-terrorist proxy Hezbollah and other groups with bloody records of sectarian killings and deadly attacks on American troops.
When specifically asked about the involvement of Shiite militias in the Mosul offensive and whether the U.S. will be supporting those forces, the Pentagon suggested that the Obama administration will support all the troops under the command of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi, which include the PMU forces.
“We will continue to support Prime Minister Abadi and those forces that are under his command carrying out this important mission,” Peter Cook, the press secretary for the Pentagon, told reporters on Monday, the day when the Mosul operation began.
The spokesman dismissed concerns about Shiite militias, saying, “It’s been a uniting thing for Iraq. We think that’s a good thing.”
Earlier this year, one of the Iran-backed PMU militias threatened the lives of U.S. Marines deployed to Iraq.
Currently, more than 5,000 U.S. troops are in Iraq.
Military.com reported earlier this week:
To defeat the ISIS defenders, the Iraqi Security Forces have assembled 12 U.S.-trained brigades which, combined with Kurdish forces and Shiite Popular Mobilization Units [PMU] linked to Iran, are expected to make up an attacking force of 20,000 to 30,000…
U.S. military and civilian officials have estimated that ISIS has about 3,000 to 5,000 fighters to defend the city
Hezbollah, a terrorist organization based in Lebanon, and other Shiite militias have been moved from backing forces loyal to Dictator Bashar al-Assad in Syria to the front lines near Mosul, reported The New Yorker, citing Iraqi officials and the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for the Study of War.
That means U.S. troops advancing on the ground towards Mosul are risking their lives to advise and call U.S.-led coalition airstrikes to protect Iran-allied Shiite militants fueled by anti-American sentiment.
The New Yorker noted:
Thousands of Shiite militiamen, from groups with horrific records of sectarian killings, are preparing to join the [Mosul] fight.
According to Iraqi officials I spoke to, as well as a former senior American intelligence official who works in the country, the Iraqi government has mobilized thousands of Shiite militiamen for the operation. The Iranian government directs many of these militia units, and most of them have long and bloody histories of murdering civilians. The forces sent to the front lines near Mosul include members of Hezbollah.
Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT), a member of the House Armed Services Committee who served as commander of U.S. special forces in Iraq, has warned that Iran’s influence in Iran is “problematic” and will lead to a “horrific scenario.”