US General Reflects on Iran Role in Tikrit

US General Reflects on Iran Role in TikritUS General Reflects on Iran Role in Tikrit

Top US General Martin Dempsey has said Iran’s involvement in dislodging “Islamic State” (IS) from the city of Tikrit could be “positive.” Tens of thousands of Iraqi troops and Shiite militiamen have moved in around the city.

Dempsey said on Tuesday that the involvement of Iranian-backed Shiites in pushing the IS out of Sunni areas of northern Iraq could be “a positive thing” - provided it did not exacerbate sectarian tension, Deutsche Welle reported.

The general, who is chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told US senators that Iran’s military assistance for Shiite militia was nothing new, having been a reality since 2004.

However, he said, it was not being carried out in a more open manner, with Iraqi forces pushing to retake the city of Tikrit from IS.

“This is the most overt conduct of Iranian support, in the form of artillery and other things,” Dempsey told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “Frankly, it will only be a problem if it results in sectarianism.”

Baghdad officials claim the force sent to win back the city totals 30,000 troops. Dempsey said about “two-thirds of the force was Iranian-based and armed Shiite militia, with Iraqi government forces making up the remainder.”