Pro-Iranian Shi'ite Groups In Iraq: Ready To Assist The Palestinian Factions In The Struggle Against Israel

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May 16, 2021

The following report is now a complimentary offering from MEMRI's Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM). For JTTM subscription information, click here. 

In recent days, several pro-Iranian Shi'ite militias in Iraq and groups affiliated with them have expressed their readiness to support the Palestinian factions and to participate in the fighting against Israel.

On May 11, 2021, Abu Yasser, the deputy for jihadi affairs to Muqtada Al-Sadr, leader of the Sadrist Movement, declared, "complete readiness and preparedness to do everything for the sake of the holy places, starting with Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque."[1]

On May 14, the Ashab Al-Kahf (People of the Cave) group released a statement on its Telegram channel[2] which reads: "This is a campaign of truth vs falsehood between the Palestinian people and the Israeli entity." In the statement, the group expresses support for the launching of missiles at Israel and stresses, "You should know that we do not stop praying for you and do not stop following the news about you and our hands are ready to assist you…" The group warns: "The Israelis and Americans should know that if the American forces interfere directly in this campaign or attempt to use Iraqi territory to support the oppressive entity or to extend any kind of aid to it from Iraqi territory, the response will be completely different from within Iraqi territory. It is likely that we will respond to the religious obligation and we will have a presence in Gaza, just as the believers responded in the past to the religious obligation [to take action] beyond the borders of Iraq.[3] The religious obligation knows no borders."

On May 14, a Telegram channel which supports the Shi'ite militias in Iraq, published a map of the Israel-Syria border with the text: "From Quneitra We Will Connect with [sic] the Galilee."[4]

On May 15, the General Secretariat of the Shi'ite Sayyid Al-Shuhada Brigades, published a statement in support of the Palestinian factions which reads: "Based on our religious, national and moral duty, which is consistent with the declaration of the Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, who stressed the obligation to defend Jerusalem and the occupied Palestinian territories,[5] we declare our complete support of the Palestinian jihadi fighters on every level in the confrontation with the forces of the Zionist entity. We declare our willingness to volunteer – the General Secretariat and the operatives – to integrate into the ranks of the Palestinian resistance to save Jerusalem and the occupied Palestinian territories, and our complete readiness to support the Palestinian resistance factions in the following areas: anti-aircraft [warfare]; [regarding] drones; anti-tank and armored vehicle [warfare]; [regarding] long-range missiles; [in] all areas of [military] engineering and all the other areas in accordance with the needs of the jihadi fighters in the Islamic resistance in Palestine."[6]

It should be noted that forces of this militia, which was established in 2013, are situated in Syria and were involved in the fighting alongside the Assad regime against the rebels. The U.S. attacked positions manned by this militia in eastern Syria, in February 2021.

On May 12, the Al-Nujaba movement released information about a meeting between secretary-general of Al-Nujaba, Akram Al-Ka'bi, with the head of the Hamas political bureau Isma'il Haniya and the secretary-general of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Ziad Al-Nakhalah. The meeting probably took place in Tehran in January 2020, during the ceremonies surrounding the funeral for Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The statement says that Al-Ka'bi expressed support for the Palestinian factions and readiness to actively participate in the struggle in Israel from within the Palestinian territories.[7]

In recent years the elements loyal to Iran, foremost among them Hizbullah and the Iraqi Shi'ite militias, have managed to establish themselves in southern Syria, close to the border with Israel.[8] In March 2017, in an interview with an Iranian news agency, the spokesman for the Al-Nujaba movement, Hashem Al-Mousawi, declared that his militia had established the "Golan Liberation Army," which, he said, "comprises special forces that have received training and equipment." This force, he said, "has detailed plans" for action, but requires the authorization of the Syrian government to be present in the Golan [Heights]. Al-Mousawi admitted that his militia is directly tied to the [Al-Hashd Al-Sha'abi (Popular Mobilization Units)] PMU and the Iranian resistance axis, and said that the militia was expanding its activity to combat Israel on the Golan Heights.[9]

 

[1] Sotaliraq.com, May 11, 2021.

[2] Telegram.me/Alkhuf,May 14, 2021.

[3] The reference appears to be to the militia's participation in the fighting alongside the Assad forces in Syria.

[4] Telegram.me/fhscvcc, May 14, 2021.

[5] On May 12, 2021, Ali Al-Sistani's bureau, which is the highest Shi'ite authority in Iraq, published a statement in which Al-Sistani expressed his "complete support" for the Palestinian people "in its courageous resistance to the occupiers." The statement called on all free peoples to support and assist the Palestinian people to restore "its rights which were stolen." Sistani.org, May 12, 2021.

[6] Telegram.me/sabreenS1, May 15, 2021.

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