Iran’s Mid East commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani has devised a plot to force US troops not just to leave Syria but to be thrown out of US bases in Iraq as well, DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources report.
Iraqi Shiite militias have been assigned to carry out terrorist attacks on the US troops scheduled to leave Syria. A US or Israel military reprisal in Iraq will, according to Soleimani’s plan, provoke Baghdad into ordering the US forces to leave their Iraqi bases forthwith.
Both US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu have vowed to remove the Iranian military presence from Syria. The former said explicitly: “The US will use diplomacy and work with our partners until ever last Iranian boot is expelled from Syria.”
The Iranian general is however running a three-track plan to prove them both wrong, while also pursuing his plan to get the US expelled from its military bases in Iraq
- The concentration on the Iraqi border of 10,000 troops belonging to the large pro-Iranian Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) aka as the Hashd Al-Shaabi militia (first reported by DEBKAfile on Jan. 17) is stage one of Soleimani’s military track.
- Revealed here for the first time by our sources is Soleimani’s latest project in Syria. He has sent his officers to set up liaison hubs for the Iraqi PMU militiamen to coordinate militarily with the Arab tribes of eastern Syria. It is believed that their tasks will focus on engineering terrorist operations against the US troops heading out of Syria.
Informed intelligence sources strongly suspect that the huge suicide bombing in the northern Syrian town of Manbij last Wednesday, which claimed 5 American lives and killed another 11 Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters, was the first of these attacks to be carried out on Soleimani’s orders by one of those joint squads.
- Tehran is also going to great trouble and expense to plant imported Shiite communities in the Syrian villages and townships located along the Damascus-Beirut highway and partly depopulated during the civil war. Some of these Shiite communities come from Iraq; others are the families of Afghan and Pakistani Shiite militias recruited by Tehran to fight for Bashar Assad in the civil war. These militiamen, whose families awaited their return in refugee camps in Iran, are being demobilized and allowed to bring their families over to rejoin them in Syria. According to some estimates, Tehran has been able to swell Syria’s Shiite population by some 9,000 imported families, all of them serving yet another of Iran’s objectives in Syria: the creation of a Shiite Corridor between Damascus and Beirut.