On Monday, the media arm of Hizbullah al-Nujaba, a major Iraqi Shiite anti-terrorist movement, announced that Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force Commander Major General Qassem Soleimani is in Syria in preparation for a large-scale operation by the Syrian Army and popular forces in Southern Aleppo. The Farsi-language media source MNA reported that General Soleimani went to Syria after intensified clashes between government forces and terrorists in Southern Aleppo Governorate. On Sunday, General Soleimeni was in Syria for briefings on events and operations of Nujaba forces in Southern Aleppo. This occurred whilst the IRGC Quds Force commander was in Iraq in recent days to help Iraqi forces in operations to liberate Fallujah. On 10 June, Iraqi Minister of Foreign Affairs Ebrahim al-Jafari stated that General Soleimani was in Iraq to help in the anti-terrorist campaign against at the specific request of the Iraqi government, saying:
General Soleimani is in Iraq at the Iraqi government’s invitation to provide military advice to the Iraqi forces.
This came just two weeks after the Syrian, Russian, and Iranian Defence Ministers met in Tehran to discuss the future course of the war in Syria (see this and this). Naturally, this didn’t please Saudi Arabia, so the Iraqi Minister of Foreign Affairs summoned Saudi Ambassador Samer al-Sabhan “to remind him of his duty not to interfere in the country’s internal affairs”. On his Facebook page, the ambassador vehemently criticised the fact that Iranian military advisers were with the Iraqi forces fighting to liberate Fallujah from ISIS occupation. Besides this, on 12 June, a delegation led by the first secretary of the Saudi Ambassador, Salah Abdallah Hatlani, came to visit Saudi prisoners held at al-Hout (Nasriyah). Hatlani declared that the King of Saudi Arabia had done everything in his power to free them. At present, these individuals are in prison for crimes they committed as ISIS members. In April, the KSA proposed to send its army to fight ISIS in Iraq. However, a number of Iraqi political leaders believe that the KSA is one of the main covert supporters of the terrorist organisation.
20 June 2016