Iran’s Role In Iraq’s Fight Against Islamic State

The Iraqi government has launched an offensive against Islamic State militants (IS) in the northern city of Tikrit, but Iran appears to be leading the charge.

The Islamic republic has officially downplayed its role in the fight against IS in Iraq, saying its involvement was limited to training Iraqi Shi’ite militias and protecting Shi’ite shrines in central and eastern Iraq.

But the offensive in Tikrit, the northernmost point of Iraq’s “Sunni Triangle,” which was the birthplace of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, has revealed a significantly expanded role.

General Lloyd Austin, the commander of U.S. Central Command, told the House Armed Services Committee on March 3 that Iran’s presence in the Tikrit fight is a “logical progression of what they have been doing in the east of the country.”