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Iran’s Proxy War Continues

8:54 AM, Jul 2, 2011 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
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June was the deadliest month in Iraq for U.S. forces in more than two years, with 15 servicemen killed. Jay Solomon of the Wall Street Journal explains why: “The U.S. has attributed all the attacks to Shiite militias it says are [sic] are trained by the [Iranian] Revolutionary Guards, rather than al Qaeda or other Sunni groups that were the most lethal forces inside Iraq a few years ago.”

That is, Iran, working through its proxies, killed 15 American servicemen in Iraq last month. 

The Journal describes the three groups leading the recent Iranian-backed charge: 

Kata'ib Hezbollah, or Brigades of the Party of God, is viewed as the one most directly taking orders from Revolutionary Guard commanders in Iran. Two others, the Promise Day Brigade and Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, are offshoots of the Mahdi Army headed by the anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who currently lives in Iran. 

Kata'ib Hezbollah is now using weapons called “IRAMs, or improvised rocket-assisted munitions,” which “are often propane tanks packed with hundreds of pounds of explosives and powered by rockets.” The Journal continues: “Militiamen launch the weapons from the backs of flatbed trucks.”

Kata'ib Hezbollah used IRAMs to kill “six American troops at Camp Victory, near Baghdad International Airport” on June 6 and three more American troops later in the month near the Iranian border.

Meanwhile in Afghanistan, Iran continues to arm its old foe, the Taliban. The Journal reports:

In February, British forces intercepted a shipment of four dozen 122-millimeter rockets moving through Afghanistan's desolate Nimruz Province near the Iranian and Pakistan borders. The rockets have an estimated range of about 13 miles, more than double the distance of the majority of the Taliban's other rockets.

"It was the first time we've seen that weapon," said a senior U.S. defense official in Afghanistan. "We saw that as upping the ante a bit from the kind of support we've seen in the past."

Iran’s support for the Taliban’s war against coalition forces dates to late 2001, when Iranian officials promised to supply Taliban leaders with weapons and safe transit for Arabs (al Qaeda operatives) traveling to Afghanistan to wage jihad.

Late last month, a D.C. district court denied Guantanamo detainee Khairullah Said Wali Khairkhwa's petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Khairkhwa was the Taliban’s governor in the westernmost province of Herat in Afghanistan. In denying Khairkhwa’s petition, the district court found that Khairkhwa "has repeatedly admitted that after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, he served as a member of a Taliban envoy that met clandestinely with senior Iranian officials to discuss Iran's offer to provide the Taliban with weapons and other military support in anticipation of imminent hostilities with US coalition forces."

Khairkhwa was one of Mullah Omar’s most trusted leaders, and also had close ties to Osama bin Laden. The Iranians told Khairkhwa they could supply weapons to kill Americans, including shoulder-fired missiles.

By this point in the Obama administration we were supposed to have meaningful discussions with the Iranians with no “preconditions.” Instead, the Iranians have simply continued using its proxies to kill American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. This started long ago during the Bush administration and much of Washington has been operating in denial ever since.

Thomas Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

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