Iraq Militia Leader Hails Tehran’s ‘Unconditional’ Support

Iraq Militia Leader Hails Tehran’s  ‘Unconditional’ SupportIraq Militia Leader Hails Tehran’s  ‘Unconditional’ Support

The US has failed to live up to its promises to help Iraq fight Islamic State (IS) extremists, unlike the "unconditional" assistance being given by Iran, the commander of Iraq's Shiite militias said on Friday.

In a battlefield interview with the Associated Press near Tikrit, where Iraqi forces are fighting to retake former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's hometown from militants of the so-called Islamic State, Hadi al-Amiri criticized those who "kiss the hands of the Americans and get nothing in return."

Iraqi forces entered Tikrit for the first time on Wednesday from the north and south. On Friday, they waged fierce battles to secure the northern neighborhood of Qadisiyya and lobbed mortar shells and rockets into the city center, still in the hands of IS militants. Iraqi military officials have said they expect to reach central Tikrit in the coming days.

The Shiite militias have played a crucial role in regaining territory from IS militants, supporting Iraq's embattled military and police forces. Al-Amiri, who is also the head of the Badr Organization political party, said that "help from Iran is unconditional."

He warned that Iraq should not sacrifice its sovereignty for the sake of receiving weapons and assistance from the United States.

"Our sovereignty is more important than US weapons," he said. "We can bring weapons from any country in the world."

As many as 30,000 men are fighting the extremists in Tikrit — most of them volunteers with various Shiite militias, Iraqi officials say.

Karim al-Nouri, a spokesman for the Popular Mobilization Forces, the official name of the Shiite militias, said as many as 40 Iranian advisers are also taking part. In its march across Syria and northern and western Iraq, IS has seized cities, towns and vast tracts of land.