The Iraqi military is training a former member of an Iran-backed militia, who is under U.S. sanctions for killing protesters, to become a high-ranking officer in the army, according to six government, security and militia officials.
They said that Hussein Falih Aziz, known as Abu Zainab al-Lami, had been sent to Egypt with Iraqi officers for a year-long training normally reserved for the country’s military personnel.
A defence ministry document seen by Reuters showed his name, with the rank Major General, on a list of officers attending the training until next summer.
Making Lami a senior officer in the army is one of the boldest moves yet by Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, a U.S. ally, to dilute the power of Iran-backed militias in Iraq, the officials said, and aligns with Washington’s stated desire to curtail Tehran’s influence across the Middle East.
An Iraqi government spokesman and Iranian officials could not immediately be reached for comment.