All the Americans could do was shake their heads as a Shiite militia flag waved above their base.
The troops from the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division were still getting used to living alongside an old enemy. It was the fall of 2016, the start of a U.S.-backed offensive to retake the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. Some Americans who’d come to aid the effort had also fought in the Iraq War, when the U.S. military suffered hundreds of deaths in battles with Shiite militia groups. Five years after that war ended, they found themselves at an airfield south of Mosul, where the Airborne was stationed in one section, and a militia outpost sat in another. Concrete blast walls separated the two sides. But someone had climbed a radio tower overlooking the U.S. barracks and tied a militia flag to its peak.
An American soldier pointed out the flag one morning with a wry look that suggested he appreciated the troll.
The global fight against ISIS created strange alliances—and the de facto one between the U.S. military and Iraq’s Shiite militias, some of whom are backed by Iran, was among the most striking.
Read the full article and more in The Atlantic.