The Quds Force, little known in the United States until the assassination plot was revealed, is all too familiar to the military, American military officials here say.
The Shiite militias aligned with the group have killed many Iraqi civilians and security forces this year. And they have also proved to be the United States’ most lethal enemy in Iraq since the American “surge” diminished the capacity of Sunni militants.
The Shiite militias — which often employ rocket attacks and roadside bombings — were responsible for the deaths of 13 of the 15 soldiers killed in June, the most deadly month for the United States in Iraq in the past three years. They are also responsible for a quarter of the assassinations of Iraqi government and military officials this year, according to American officials.
The Quds Force has one goal, according to the officials and analysts: weakening Iraq so it is even more dependent on Iran. Among the first steps in that process, they say, is severing the United States’ relationship with the Iraqi government and keeping Iraq isolated from its neighbors.