Shiite militias are a major player in Syria


December 9, 2013

SHIITE CLERIC INTERROGATOR: An Iraqi man wearing a Shiite turban interrogates blindfolded and handcuffed Syrian civilians in the Damascus suburb of Ghazaliya in East Ghouta, on the road to the Damascus airport, in a video uploaded to YouTube Sunday.

“After the storming of Ghazalia, these people were arrested,” the Iraqi says, pointing toward the detainees. “If you give us information, we will be merciful. Do you agree?” he asks them.

“What did we do?” a detainee asks in response.

One of many uploaded to YouTube depicting sectarian, foreign religious groups fighting on both sides of the Syrian conflict, this video makes no explicit mention of support for the Assad regime, but instead discusses combatting Syrians and the occupation of Syrian land.

Two Iraqi Shia militias – Thul Fugar Brigades and Liwa al-Abbas Brigades – have fought alongside the Syrian army for months in Damascus and its suburbs, claiming to protect the Sitt Zainab shrine in Damascus, a Shiite holy site.

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Shi’ite fighters in Damascus.

“Iraqi militias tortured an old man to death yesterday,” Monzer Mohammed Akbik, the Chief of Staff for the Syrian National Coalition’s President Ahmad al-Jarba said over the weekend, adding,“Iran is sending support in the form of men, weapons and money, helping [Assad] to slaughter his people into submission.”

“The Iraqi militias are influenced by Iran and sent over to Syria, as are Lebanon’s Hezbollah militias,” Akbik said.

Hezbollah’s Lebanese Shia militias are concentrated in Aleppo, Homs, Damascus and the Damascus suburbs, and have played a major role in the Syrian army’s advance on Qalamoun along the Lebanese border.On Monday, Hezbollah announced the death of one of its leader, Ali Bazi, as he fought alongside the Syrian army in Syria.

“All forces call O Hussein, we are coming, Hussein,” a soldier screams over a walkie talkie in Iraqi dialect at the end of the video, referencing the Shiite martyr.

Video courtesy of Free Syria 2011.

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