Who Are the Iranian-Backed Shiite Militias Fighting in Iraq?

(Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty) Frud Bezhan - There are several major Iranian-backed Shiite militias taking part in the Tikrit offensive in Iraq. Kataib Hizbullah, a well-armed and funded group that has also fought urban warfare in Syria, is arguably the most potent of these militias, according to analysts. Asaib Ahl al-Haq is one of the largest and most formidable of the Iranian-backed militias. It grew out of a splinter group from the militia led by Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Iran is believed to have provided training and logistical support to the group inside Iraq. The Badr Organization was formed by Iran's Revolutionary Guards and has a military wing, the Badr Brigades. "Kataib Hizbullah and Asaib Ahl al-Haq have quite clearly stated that they are followers of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei," says Sajad Jiyad, a London-based Iraq analyst. In addition, "We estimate that there's probably a few hundred Iranian Quds force members inside Iraq fighting - not just doing command-and-control and logistics, but they are actually physically fighting as well," says Michael Stephens, deputy director of the Royal United Services Institute for Defense and Security Studies (RUSI) in Qatar. "They are providing troops and they're providing weapons shipments in the form of airdrops."

2015-03-06 00:00:00

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