IRAQI SECURITY forces wait for vehicles traveling to Mosul to fight against Islamic State at an Iraqi army base in Camp Taji in Baghdad on February 21..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Iranian Revolutionary Guards plan to deploy Hamas forces in the battle for Iraq's second biggest city, Mosul, which has been controlled by ISIS since June 2014, the London-based Arab daily a-Sharq al-Awsat reported Sunday.
According to the report, Hamas forces would fight for Mosul's liberation alongside Hezbollah fighters and the Shi'ite Houthi militias which are currently struggling in Yemen against the Sunni coalition of Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia.
Located in northern Iraq, Mosul is a cultural heritage asset for Iran, due to the slew of holy Shi'ite sites located in the city, such as al-Qubba al-Husseniya mosque, which was demolished by ISIS in June 2014.
According to the report, Iran also intends to use Hamas in order to liberate the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, which has been under Kurdish control since June, and destabilize the Kurdistan region. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards are planning to deploy forces affiliated with Hamas, Hezbollah and the Houthis in Kirkuk, from which they would gradually advance toward Kurdistan.
Iran strives to destabilize Iraqi Kurdistan because it views the Kurdistan Regional Government, headed by President Masood Barzani, as a grave threat to its clout in its neighbor, Iraq.
A Peshmerga commander told a-Sharq al-Awsat that in the past few days, Hezbollah forces joined the local Shi'ite Popular Mobilization Units in south Kirkuk carrying heavy weapons and missiles. He explained that Iran aims at capturing Mosul and Kirkuk in order to open a route to smuggle weapons and soldiers to Syria and Lebanon.
Iran's reported plans regarding Hamas are ambitious and would have to overcome the Palestinian organization’s position of neutrality in regard to the regional conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia.