News On Iran & Its NeighboursIraqIran-backed militias gain foothold in Iraq

Iran-backed militias gain foothold in Iraq

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UPI: Senior British and Iraqi officials say southern Iraq is dominated by Shiite Muslim warlords and militiamen, a published report says. United Press International

BASRA, Iraq, May 28 (UPI) — Senior British and Iraqi officials say southern Iraq is dominated by Shiite Muslim warlords and militiamen, a published report says.

The officials say the militias are laying the groundwork for an Islamic fundamentalist government.

The Philadelphia Inquirer says the militias appear to be supported by Iranian intelligence or military units that are shipping weapons to the militias in Iraq and providing training for them in Iran.

The newspaper said some British officials believe the Iranians want to hasten the withdrawal of U.S.-backed coalition forces to pave the way for Iran-friendly clerical rule.

While U.S. military officials in Baghdad often point to the relatively low number of attacks against British soldiers in southern Iraq as proof that much of the country is stable, an Iraqi Defense Ministry official said at least 200 people were killed in Basra last month in mostly militia violence.

Brig. Gen. James Everard, who commands the British brigade in Basra, said that there are many signs that Iran is backing the Shiite push for control of Basra, although it’s not clear to what extent the Iranian government is formally involved, the newspaper said.

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