Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Shiite militias in Syria

It is known that the Syrian Armed Forces or Assad’s Army has lost its military capabilities in the last two years and most of the military bases and Airports have been captured by Syrian rebel forces, many of their tanks, armoured vehicles and aircraft are either destroyed or captured by Syrian rebel fighters which is a big loss to the Syrian Armed Forces. Most of his sectarian elite forces like 4th Armoured Division, Republican Guard, Intelligence security forces are among the heavy casualties of the Army that they are either dead, wounded, captured or escaped.

To recover his military loses he needed to recruit Shia fighters from abroad to cover up the loses of his army and to have a strong assistance to his troops, some reports suggest that the numbers of foreign Shia fighters are around 40,000 they came from around the world, but these fighters are mostly recruited from Lebanon and Iraq with other few recruits from Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen. They are being motivated religiously and politically to come to Syria to defend the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad and the Shia holy sites in Syria, all of the Shia foreign fighters are supported by Iran and Iranian Revolutionary Guards who pays and trains them regularly in Syria.

Iranian Revolutionary Guards officer Mohammad Eskandari who was recently captured and executed by Nusra Front fighters has stated from Iran that Iran has being supportive of the Syrian Regime military by sending weapons and Shia fighters where he says that Iranian Revolutionary Guards has formed and trained 42 Brigades and 138 Battalions to face the “enemies” in Syria and to defend the Assad Regime.

Many Shia fighters use religious slogans such as Ya li Tharati Hussein which means “revenge for Hussein,” and Zaynab la Tusba Marratayn which means “Zaynab, you will not be held captive twice,” showing the belief that the current conflict is simultaneously a defence of Shiite holy sites and an attempt at taking revenge on the Syrians and the Sunnis for their role in the massacre at Karbala, which took place around 1,400 years ago.

Recruitment

Iran has completed the sectarian recruitment for the Shiites around the world to fight in Syria for the Assad Regime, the new recruited militia fighters underwent a fast and intensive military training course, to confined the weapons that have been supplied in the training camps under supervision of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard and with the participation of Syrian officers from the Syrian elite forces.

Sometimes those fighters are need to go to Iran where they will have to enrol on a 45 day training course in order to specialize in using weapons like AK-47, RPG-7, Dragonov Snipers and RPK machine guns after the completion of the course they will be sent to join a brigade in Syria.

The training camps are many also they are located in different countries like in Syria they have the Yarfour training camps in Rural Damascus, Sayyidah Zaynab training camp in Damascus and Zahra training camp in Aleppo. In Lebanon they train inside Hezbollah training camps in southern Lebanon and in Iraq they train in Iraqi military training camps in Baghdad in addition to Iranian revolutionary guard training camps in Iran, all of these training camps are being used to prepare the Shiite fighters militarily before sending them to Syria

Entry to Syria

They enter to Syria either from border gates or from international airports and off course under direct supervision from the Syrian intelligence service. Some of them go in groups and some as individuals but all enters to Syria as a pilgrim or a visitor to the Shia holy places to cover themselves from the media and the people.

Assad regime pays the salaries

Assad regime ensures the providing of supplies to its soldiers and foreign fighters, including the paying the salaries for most of them and the rest of them are being paid by Iranian and Iraqi Government. Salary range is between $500 - $2,500 depending on the front they are fighting in and the power of the militia they belong to. Not only do those militia fighters get their salaries from the Assad regime in order for them to get extra money they get involved in looting and armed robbery in public including raiding on civilian houses and stopping them in military checkpoints in order to bribe them to go through, under the pretext of dealing with so called terrorists.

Major General Qassem Suleimani leads the operations on the ground

The presence of these militia fighters are heavily located in various Syrian territories, and that are moving from one place to another as ordered, they are unorganized and they work without cooperation from other militias but they all get orders from one military operation room led by Major General Qassem Suleimani and his Iranian officers with the assistance from the Syrian officers from the Syrian army and intelligence services.

Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps




Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard or sometimes called as Iranian Hezbollah it was formed in 1979 when Khomeini established the Islamic republic of Iran. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini is the Founder of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps which was used to protect the Revolution, defend the Islamic republic of Iran and to assist the ruling clerics in the daily enforcement of the new government's Islamic codes and morality in the Iranian society.


Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard participated alongside the Syrian Assad regime in the suppression of the Syrian Revolution in 2011 from the start by sending its military commanders and did not delay sending its members to fight alongside the ranks of the Syrian Assad regime plus providing training and forming brigades made up of foreign Shia fighters to help the Syrian Armed Forces fighting the rebels across Syria. There are around 1,500-3,000 Iranian Revolutionary Guard Offices are active in all across Syria, their primary duty is to gather intelligence and manage the logistics for the Syrian regime and assisting to train local soldiers and managing supply routes of arms and money to neighbouring country Lebanon.

                                      Iranian Revolutionary Guards/AP             

                               Iranian Revolutionary Guard Offices in Syria / Facebook

                               Iranian Revolutionary Guard Offices in Syria/Facebook

                               Iranian Revolutionary Guard Offices in Syria/Facebook

                               Iranian Revolutionary Guard Offices in Syria/Facebook


Iranian Quds Force

Quds Force “Jerusalem Force” is a Special forces unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, this well trained and equipped Iranian force is led by Major General Qassem Suleimani personally. The responsibility of this force is to ensure the safety of Bashar Assad and his family and it accompanies him wherever he stays and goes, they wear civilian clothes and equipped with small fire arms and they are around 1,200 soldiers of this unit in Syria.


Hezbollah



Hezbollah “Party of God” is a Shia militant group and political party in Lebanon and it was formed when Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982. Now Hezbollah is led by Hassan Nasrallah who sent more than 8,000 fighters to Syria to defend Assad regime and to combat the rebel fighters there, most of Hezbollah fighters are Lebanses Shiites from the south of Lebanon. They are accused of committing many massacres against Syrian civilians throughout Syria, the core strength of Hezbollah lies on its military leaders of this militia and the geographical location where Lebanon is close to Syria which made them support the their fighters in Syria regularly with aids and weapons.

                                          Hezbollah Fighters / Lebanon24 

Hezbollah Fighters / Facebook 

Hezbollah Fighters / Facebook 

Hezbollah Fighters / Facebook 


Liwa Abu Fadl Al Abbas


   
Liwa Abu Fadl Al Abbas “Abu Fadl Al Abbas Brigade” is a Syrian Shia militant group that was formed in 2012 to protect the shrine of sayyidah zaynab which is located in Damascus. It’s one of the first and largest Shiite militant groups in Syria most of its fighters are Shiites Iraqis, Syrians (from Nubul and Zahra) and Lebanese they all joined that brigade under the pretext of defending the shrine of Sayyidah Zaynab which is a holy Shiite site located in Damascus, Its role is largely defensive rather than offensive they engaged in battle by collaborating with Syrian Army. The Brigade is consisting of 10,000 fighters (7,000 Iraqis) is led by the Iraqi Abu Hajer and the Syrian Abu Ajeeb.

     Al Abbas Brigade fighters in Damascus / Reuters 

      Al Abbas Brigade fighters in Damascus / Eldorar

          Al Abbas Brigade fighters in Damascus / Facebook

          Al Abbas Brigade fighters in Damascus / Al Arabiya



Liwa Dhu Al Fiqar


   
Liwa Dhu Al Fiqar “Dhu Al Fiqar Brigade” is an Iraqi Shia militant group that was formed in 2013 and the reason for its creation was because a split had happened between Liwa Abu Fadl Al Abbas Fighters over finances and leadership which erupted into clashes between each other. So many Iraqi fighters led by the Iraqi Abu Shahed Al Jabouri has left Liwa Abu Fadl Al Abbas and formed a new brigade under the name of Liwa Dhu Al Fiqar which has involved in many battles in Damascus and in around its suburbs, the brigade has around 1,000 fighters. 

                                          Liwa Dhul Fiqar Fighters / Eldorar

                                        Liwa Dhul Fiqar Fighters / Al Arabiya

                                        Liwa Dhul Fiqar Fighters / Facebook  



Liwa Fatemiyoun



Liwa Fatemiyoun [Arabic: Fatemiyoun Brigade] are an Afghan Shiite militia that was formed in 2014 by Iranian IRGC to fight against the Syrian revolutionaries. They have participated in many battles in Daraa, Idlib and Aleppo provinces alongside Syrian Arab Army and other pro-Syrian regime militia against Syrian revolutionaries. Since they have always been the deployed in the frontlines the group has been taking heavy casualties, the Iranian press reported that Liwa Fatemiyoun has lost around 900 fighters which is considered a lot to a small group. Liwa Fatemiyoun have around 3,500 fighters and they are led by Alireza Tavassoli also been observed and commanded by Iranian Officers. The Afghan Shiite fighters are Persian speaking from Iran, it’s the Hazara refugee population which is around half million Hazaras living in poor economic conditions. They were recruited by Iranian IRGC after promising them a salary of $500 monthly and Iranian residency papers. 

Liwa Fatimiyoun fighters / Facebook




Kata'ib Hezbollah (Harakat Nujabaa)



Kata'ib Hezbollah “Hezbollah Brigades” is an Iraqi Shia militant group that was formed in 2003 before the US invasion on Iraq to combat US forces. Kata’ib Hezbollah follows the Lebanese Hezbollah in terms of ideology, systematically and militarily but it is an Independent militant group. The group was founded by a radical Shiite cleric Watheq Al Battat who he is committed to the Wilayat Al Faqih “Islamic Shia Jurist” and the Marja “Religious following” of Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei. Kata’ib Hezbollah has sent three brigades to Syria which is Al Hamd, Hassan Mujtaba and Ammar Ibn Yasser under the leadership of Sheikh Akram al-Kaabi and his fighters which is estimated to be around 1,500 fighters.

Kata'ib Hezbollah / Al Ansaar

Kata'ib Hezbollah fighters / Facebook

Kata'ib Hezbollah fighters / Facebook


Haidar al-Karar Brigades (Asa'ib Ahl Al Haq)  



Haidar al-Karar Brigades is an Iraqi Shia militant group that is led by Haj Mahdi in Syria, it includes in its ranks the most skilled snipers between all Shiite militant groups in Syria and they are mostly active around Aleppo also they are estimated to be around 800 fighters.  

                                    Haidar al-Karar Brigade fighters / Facebook

                                   Haidar al-Karar Brigade fighters / Facebook

                                   Haidar al-Karar Brigade fighters / Facebook




Liwa Saada



Liwa Saada “Saada Brigade” is a Yemeni Shia militant group that belong to the Houthis, they are well trained and experienced fighters since they had many battles with the Yamani Army and the Salafi tribes in Yemen. They are active around Damascus and its suburbs with number of 750 fighters. They engage in battle with the Syrian Army and Liwa Abu Fadl Al Abbas forces.

Houthi fighters / Orient news


Badr Organization



Badr Organization is an Iraqi Shia militant group and a political party, its militant group consists of Iraqi and Iranian Shiites that are trained to do Assassinations, Kidnapping and street battles. This militant group is only active in Damascus and its suburbs where they run hospitals so that they can treat other Shia fighters from different brigades, this group has around 1,500 fighters.

Badr fighters / Al Gharibiya news



                                                  Badr fighters / Al Arabiya


Sarriya Al Talia Al Khurasani



Sarriya Al Talia Al Khurasani “The Vanguard of Khurasani Unit” is an Iraqi Shia militant group it was created by the Iranian Quds force, the objective of this unit is to protect Damascus international airport and this group has around 600 fighters and its led by Sayed Ali Al Yasseri.

                               Sarriya Al Talia Al Khurasani fighters / Facebook

                                Sarriya Al Talia Al Khurasani fighters / Facebook


Faylak Wa’ad Al Sadiq



Faylak Wa’ad Al Sadiq “The Truthful Promise Crops” is an Iraqi Shia militant group that consists of Iraqi and Syrian Shia fighters from Idlib, this militia is operated in Aleppo especially near to the Syrian Intelligence headquarters and Aleppo central prison it supports the Syrian armed forces in the most of its battles their numbers is estimated to be around 1,000 fighters.  

Faylak Wa’ad Al Sadiq fighters / Al Mustaqbal


Liwa Assadu Allahi Ghaleb



Liwa Assadu Allahi Ghaleb “God’s victorious lion brigade” it’s an Iraqi Shia militia that consists of Iraqi SWAT members, They are well trained and equipped and they are led by Abu Fatima Al Mousawi and their number is estimated to be around 500 fighters.

                                  Liwa Assadu Allahi Ghaleb fighters / Facebook

                                  Liwa Assadu Allahi Ghaleb fighters / Facebook

                               Liwa Assadu Allahi Ghaleb fighters / Facebook 


References:

Washington institute, Iran's Afghan Shiite Fighters in Syria (English) – [http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/irans-afghan-shiite-fighters-in-syria]

Washington Institute, Iran's foreign legion (English):

Guardian, Shia volunteers in Syria (English):

Guardian, Controlled by Iran, Deadly militia in Syria (English):

Al Monitor, Shiite foreign fighters in Syria (English):

Al Monitor, Iraqi Shiites join Syrian war (English):

Telegraph, Iran boosts support to Syria (English):

Al Arabiya, Hezbollah sends more fighters to Syria (English):


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