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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Hezbollah Brigades lead Iraqi counteroffensive to retake Ramadi

Hezbollah brigade on the way to join ISF forces in
the battle for Anbar against ISIS

It's not like the U.S. is helping

(Long War Journal)  -  Iranian-backed Shiite militias, including Hezbollah Brigades, a US-listed Foreign Terrorist Organization, are leading the Iraqi government’s counteroffensive to regain control of Ramadi, which was lost to the Islamic State last week. The militias are now eclipsing Iraq’s security forces in the fight against the Islamic State.

Thousands of fighters from Shiite militias operating under the aegis of the Popular Mobilization Committee, backed by units from the Iraqi Army’s Golden Division and more than a thousand policemen, launched the counteroffensive from the city of Habbaniyah, one of the last government-controlled areas in eastern Anbar yesterday.

The militias and Iraqi forces blunted an Islamic State offensive, which was designed to take Habbaniyah and deprive the government of a launch pad to execute its counterattack on Ramadi, the provincial capital of Anbar which fell to the Islamic State on May 17. Islamic State forces broke through hastily erected defensive lines west of Habbaniyah and advanced into Husaybah and as far east as Al Madeeq on May 22.

Hezbollah Battalions in Iraq

Hezbollah Brigades confirmed on its website that it was involved in the fighting in Ramadi. The group blamed the fall of Ramadi on Iraqi politicians who held the militias back from the fight in Anbar.

“The security breach that took place in Ramadi was the result of some politicians trusting the Americans,” Hezbollah Brigades quoted one of its commanders deployed near Ramadi. The statement is a swipe at Prime Minister Haider al Abadi, who has been advised by the US not to deploy Shiite militias to Anbar.

Iraq relies on Iranian-supported militias for Anbar offensive

The Iraqi government’s reliance on the militias to lead the offensive in Ramadi highlights the deteriorating state of Iraq’s security forces as well as Iran’s growing influence in the country. Other militias thought to be operating near Ramadi include the Imam Ali Brigade, the Sayyed al Shuhada Brigade, and Harakat Nujaba; all three militias, which are backed by Iran, put out a call for their forces to organize for the Ramadi offensives.

After the fall of Ramadi, Prime Minister Abadi requested that the Iraqi government-sanctioned Popular Mobilization Committee, or Hashid Shaabi, deploy to Anbar province to battle the Islamic State.

The Popular Mobilization Committee is led by Abu Mahdi al Muhandis, a former commander in the Badr Organization who was listed by the US government as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist in July 2009.

In addition to leading the Popular Mobilization Committee, Muhandis is also said to direct the operations of Kata’ib Imam Ali (Imam Ali Brigade) as well as command the Hezbollah Brigades. Top leaders in the Sayyed al Shuhada Brigade and Harakat Nujaba are listed as Specially Designated Global Terrorists or are known to have targeted US forces in Iraq during the US occupation from 2003 to 2011.

Read More . . . .

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Members of the Iraqi Shiite militia, Kataib Hezbollah (Hezbollah Brigades)

Local residents and Sunni tribal fighters welcome newly-arriving Iraqi Shiite Hezbollah Brigade militiamen, brandishing their flag, who are joining the fight against Islamic State group militants in Khalidiya, 100 kilometers (60 miles) west of Baghdad, Iraq. (AP Photo)

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