Iran’s Fars News Agency reported the Anti-ISIS Al-Hashad Al-Shabi militia forces shot down a US helicopter supplying ISIS. It further reported US Apache helicopters airdropped food and arms to ISIS. Fars published pictures of the shot down helicopter (see above).
There are a couple of problems with the report. First, the helicopter pictured isn’t a US helicopter. Second, Apaches don’t conduct airdrop operations. They are an attack helicopter with no cargo capacity unless someone rigs fake fuel tanks and stuffs supplies in them. Heck, Apaches don’t even have a cargo hook. Third inly the most densely covered tin foil hat types could believe the US is supplying ISIS let alone doing it overtly.
Defense one reports these rumors are believed at the highest echelons of Iranian decision makers. Iran’s Quds force commander, Qassem Suleimani actively believes them. The danger is that the Iranian rumors are starting to be believed by Iraqi forces making it much harder and dangerous to work with them. Army Brig. Gen. Kurt Crytzer, U.S. Special Operations Command Central deputy commander confirmed that a Special Forces detachment was asked why the US was supplying ISIS by the gate guards. When the gate guards start asking questions like that, it doesn’t bode well for the mission. To make matters worse General Crytzer confirmed a US helicopter had been fired upon by Iraqi forces.
Why would Iran believe such a farfetched message? Well this may be a secondary effect of our own already over developed tendency to create incredible conspiracy stories. “Jade Helm” anyone? Iran’s fibbing might be attributable to the previous reason but there are quite a few more plausible reasons or a combination there of.
Iran has a penchant for extravagant claims. In the same theme as US aircraft supplying ISIS, Iran has also stated the Brits are doing so also and recently shot down two of their supply planes. (Again, a blatant lie.) Iran routinely reports military capabilities or greater influence in the world than they have. Iran laughingly showcased a make believe stealth fighter supposedly superior to US aircraft in 2013. The aircraft was a resin mock up. About a week ago Iran claimed to have sent the US Navy running in the Gulf of Aden when a week prior the opposite occurred.
Incredible story telling stokes the masses. I don’t see this as a real issue in Iran where public opinion can be easily addressed with Iran’s secret police e.g. the short-lived Green Revolution. For the intensely insecure, story making can create imaginary capability in one’s mind for a short time at least. If nothing else it gives Iranian troops confidence until they start getting mowed down by the bushel.
Personally, I think the most likely scenario is Iran was stung by its inability to take Tikrit alone last month. Creating a myth of US support for ISIS, whether conscious or not, soothes the Persian pride and creates problems for US efforts. The strongest indicator that leads me to believe I’m right is General Crytzer says Suleimani sincerely believes we are supplying ISIS.
In the meantime the road to ousting ISIS gets no easier but then again that’s not the goal anyway.