Iran on Saturday denied a Reuters report that it has transferred ballistic missiles to militias loyal to it in Iraq.
“The lie disseminated by some media on shipment of Iran-made missiles to Iraq is totally irrelevant and unfounded,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said.
“Such news comes merely to cause panic among countries in the region and is in line with their policy to spread Iranophobia,” Qasemi said.
They seek to influence Iran’s foreign relations mainly with its neighbors, he said.
The Friday report stated that several dozen rockets capable of hitting Israel and Tehran’s Sunni rival Saudi Arabia had been deployed with Iran’s Shiite proxies in Iraq.
It added that Iran was working to provide its allies with missile manufacturing facilities, and has been training militia members in operating the new weapons.
The deployment is meant to improve Iran’s ability to retaliate against any Western or Arab attacks on its territory, as well as to expand its options for attacking opponents in the region, Reuters said.
The report cited “three Iranian officials, two Iraqi intelligence sources and two Western intelligence sources.”
Iran’s proxies, allied militias as well as its own forces are involved in internal conflicts in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen.
The move makes Iran’s allies in Iraq better able to attack US troops in the country in the event Iran is attacked.
“We have bases like that in many places and Iraq is one of them. If America attacks us, our friends will attack America’s interests and its allies in the region,” one top IRGC commander said.
Iran has long used its Shiite proxies and allies in Iraq to hit back at its opponents. According to transcripts of interrogations in 2007 of a top Shiite military and religious figure in Iraq declassified earlier this year, Iran was heavily involved in Iraqi Shiite militias’ attacks on US troops in the years following the American invasion of the country in 2003.
Qais al-Khazali, who now heads the Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia that won 15 parliamentary seats in the country’s May elections, detailed the scale of Iranian involvement in the country in the 2007 interrogation, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing recently declassified documents.