PressTV, an Iranian government propaganda outlet, suggested President Joe Biden’s decision to bomb targets tied to Iran-backed militias in Syria on Thursday may be linked to “numerous reports” of American support for the Islamic State.
The government of Iran has repeatedly claimed that the United States supports the Islamic State, a jihadist terrorist group that has spent years conducting terrorist attacks targeting Americans. As recently as this month, Iranian government officials accused Washington of rebuilding the Islamic State from the remains of what the American government had participated in destroying. American forces were largely responsible for the defeats of the Islamic State in key strongholds like Mosul, Iraq, and Raqqa, Syria.
Biden approved airstrikes late Thursday on assets tied to Iran-backed militias in Syria. The Pentagon identified the targets as tied to members of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), a coalition of largely Shiite militias that Baghdad legalized as a formal wing of the Iraqi military during the war against the Islamic State. ISIS is a Sunni jihadist organization, placing it at odds with the Shiite jihadis in the PMF.
In its coverage of the airstrikes, PressTV claimed, “over the years, there have been numerous reports about the infiltration of Daesh [ISIS] elements from Syria into Iraq under the protection and logistical assistance of US troops.” It did not clarify that the “reports” were largely found in Iranian government propaganda outlets like PressTV.
The outlet went on to cite the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), a propaganda outlet run by the government of dictator Bashar al-Assad, for reports claiming that “that US military forces plan to transport a new batch of imprisoned Daesh terrorists from the northeastern Syrian province of Hasakah to the al-Tanf military base near the border with Jordan.” PressTV implied that the terrorists were being moved to place them in areas that make them more capable of violence, citing Iranian Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raeisi.”
“While Iraq, Syria, Iran and regional countries are working together to eliminate the remnants of Daesh, the Americans do nothing but relocate the Daesh terrorists in the region,” Raeisi claimed this month.
In its report, SANA directly accused the United States of ordering ISIS terrorists to attack Assad assets, citing only anonymous “sources.”
“The sources indicated that the prisoners will undergo medical tests by American occupation doctors at the base then to take them to al-Tanf area on the Syrian-Jordanian border and use them to carry out attacks on the Syrian Arab Army points, residential centers and vital roads,” SANA claimed.
No evidence exists of any cooperation at any point in time between the Islamic State and the American government. In contrast, the Pentagon has praised the PMF in the past for participating in a broad coalition against ISIS that has largely disintegrated since the terrorist group lost control of its territories.
“Iraqi militia forces, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, and the [U.S.-led] global coalition also deserve a share of the credit for their sacrifices to achieve this hard-won victory,” Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend said in 2017, “The global Coalition fighting ISIS congratulates Prime Minister al-Abadi and the Iraqi Security Forces on their historic victory against a brutal and evil enemy.”
The Pentagon confirmed to Breitbart News when approached that Townshend included the PMF in those remarks.
Iranian media outlets did not note this prior cooperation in their coverage of the airstrikes this week.
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby explained in a statement Thursday that Biden had ordered the military to bomb Iran-backed militias in Syria in response to a rocket attack near Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan, last week.
“These strikes were authorized in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel,” Kirby said. “Specifically, the strikes destroyed multiple facilities located at a border control point used by a number of Iranian-backed militant groups, including Kait’ib Hezbollah (KH) and Kait’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada (KSS).”
KH, or the Hezbollah Brigades, is one of the most powerful members of the PMF and a U.S.-designated terrorist organization. It is a separate terrorist organization from the larger Lebanese political party Hezbollah.
PressTV claimed to have knowledge of one death as a result of the strikes and four injuries. The Agence France-Presse (AFP), citing the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), stated the true death toll was closer to 17 people.
The attacks in Iraq that Kirby referenced were rocket attacks against American assets in Erbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). A group called Saraya Awlia al-Dam, or “Guardians of Blood Brigades,” took responsibility for the bombings. The militia reportedly has ties to the Iranian government and is part of the greater PMF, but experts consider it smaller and more obscure than the major factions. Some officials told AFP they believe that there is no meaningful difference between the Guardians of Blood Brigades and groups like KH.