June 1, 2023 Special Dispatch No. 10643

Telegram Outlets Linked To Iran-Backed Militias In Iraq: Wagner Group Honors Iraqi 'Martyr' Who Fought Alongside Russia In Ukraine

June 1, 2023
Iran, Iraq, Russia, Ukraine | Special Dispatch No. 10643

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

The Sabereen News Telegram channel, which supports Iran-backed militias in Iraq, reported on May 31, 2023 that the Russia-backed Wagner PMC group had posthumously awarded a Russian medal and Black Cross ribbon to an Iraqi fighter named Abbas Abu Dharr Witwit, who was reportedly residing in Russia.[1]

For more about the involvement of jihadi groups in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, see MEMRI’s study The Jihadi Conflict Inside The Russia-Ukraine War.

According to the post, Witwit who was killed on April 6, 2023 had a residency in Russia. "The Wagner Company grants the families of an Iraqi martyr the most prestigious medal of courage given to a resident of Russia who met martyrdom during the confrontations to liberate the city of Bakhmut," said the post.

The channel also shared a video of a Wagner representative giving the medal and the ribbon to a man who is identified in the post as Witwit's parent. In the video  the father who spoke in Arabic language, praised his son, saying that "he was a hero, and he died like a hero, for the sake of freedom, a multipolar world and against the [powers] of arrogance." 

The Putin's Friends in Iraq Telegram channel shared an English-language post reading: "[Witwit] selflessly gave his life while defending the ideals of freedom, justice and a multipolar world that America does not control. He dedicated his life to fighting against oppression, imperialism, and injustice. Believing that every person has the right to live in a world free from tyranny and fear, he devoted himself to the cause of defending these values and making them a reality."[2]

Witwit is a well-known Iraqi Shiite tribe that descends from Hilla city in Babil Province and Kurbela Province. 

Over the past months, there have been several reports of jihadis who spent years fighting in Iraq and Syria now fighting in Ukraine, on both sides of the conflict.[3]


[1] Telegram, May 31, 2023.

[2] Telegram, May 31, 2023.

[3] See MEMRI JTTM Report: The Jihadi Conflict Inside The Russia-Ukraine War, May 22, 2023.

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