A U.S. military official denied Tuesday that U.S. forces were sharing an Iraqi base with Iranian-backed Shiite militias but acknowledged that some militia members work on a separate part of the base as authorized liaisons.
“There are no Shiite militia units on Taqqadum [Airbase],” Pentagon press operations director U.S. Army Col. Steve Warren told reporters, but there are “some individuals” serving as liaisons at the base who are members of Shiite militia units.
Warren’s comments came in response to a Bloomberg report Monday that U.S. forces and Shiite militias were sharing the base in Anbar Province where U.S. military advisers are training Iraqi troops to fight the terror group ISIS.
Shiite militias have battled U.S. soldiers in Iraq in the past but are now mobilizing against ISIS with support from the Iraqi government.
The Bloomberg report, which cited unnamed senior administration officials, noted that the “U.S. intelligence community has reported back to Washington that representatives of some of the more extreme militias have been spying on U.S. operations at Taqqadum.”
The liaisons “are separated by space” from the Americans, Warren insisted, and the U.S. presence on the base is conditioned on the absence of militias units or Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps units because of the potential risk these could pose to American troops.
The decision “was in the interest of the safety of our personnel,” Warren added, saying that Americans “have had no interaction” with the Shiite liaisons.