Syria: Iraq's Popular Mobilisation ready to fight for Assad

Syria: Iraq's Popular Mobilisation ready to fight for Assad
The Iran-backed Iraqi Popular Mobilisation Units, fresh from joining the fight for Mosul, said on Saturday they are ready to support the military campaigns of Bashar al-Assad in neighbouring Syria.
2 min read
30 October, 2016
Hashd al-Shaabi are fighting in the battle to liberate Mosul [Getty]

The Iran-backed Iraqi Shia militia Hashd al-Shaabi, also known as the Popular Mobilisation Units, are prepared to fight alongside forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a spokesman for the group said on Saturday. 

"After clearing all our land from these terrorist gangs, we are fully ready to go to any place that contains a threat to Iraqi national security," Ahmed al-Asadi, a spokesman for the Shia coalition, told a news conference in Baghdad.

The announcement comes a day after the paramilitary umbrella organisation dominated by Iran-backed militias announced that it had begun participating in ongoing campaigns lead by the Kurdish Peshmerga and Iraqi army to liberate the city of Mosul from Islamic State fighters; engaging in an offensive to capture the town of Tal Afar, west of the city. 

Before Mosul operations began on October 16, a number of international actors including the UK called for Hashd al-Shaabi to be kept out of the battle for Mosul.

The umbrella group has been accused of war crimes over the past year during its campaigns to wrestle back control of Iraqi territory from IS, for example in Fallujah in June where the group stands accused of carrying out retributive killings on Sunni families. 

A number of Iraqi Shia militias are already present fighting alongside pro-regime forces in Syria. 

In early October The Wall Street Journal reported that more than 1,000 Iraqi Shia fighters had travelled from Iraq since early September in order to assist pro-regime forces engaged in an assault on rebel-held east Aleppo, joining as many as 4,000 others already positioned in the city.

Those travelling to the war-torn Syrian city purportedly included members of the Al Nujaba, or “The Noble Ones” militia.