Iran-backed militias are playing a significant role in beating back the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, but the country isn’t an ally to the US in the fight, CIA Director John Brennan said on Sunday.
Brennan said on “Fox News Sunday” that even though both the United States and Iran are fighting the extremist group, “I wouldn’t consider Iran an ally.”
He credited Iraqi government forces and air strikes from the US and its allies for slowing the gains of the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) in the Middle East.
The group is not “on the march” as it was previously, Brennan said.
“Clearly ISIS’s momentum inside of Iraq and Syria has been blunted, and it has been stopped. So they are not on the march as they were several months ago,” Brennan said. “… Our working with the Iraqis, and the Iraqis trying to push back against it, it is having some great progress.”
Still, ISIS has seized large swaths of Iraq and Syria, and the Iraqi army has been crippled by desertions and is far from capable of taking on ISIS on its own.
And though the Shiite militias Iran supports have been helping other ground forces battle ISIS militants, they have also been accused of of torching villages and abusing Sunni civilians.
Although both Iran and the US want to see ISIS taken out, Iran’s interests in crushing the group seem to be more sinister.
In a disturbing sign of Iran’s growing influence in Iraq, Ali Younusi, an adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, said recently that “Iran is an empire once again at last, and its capital is Baghdad.”
(Reporting by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Frances Kerry)
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