Kata'ib al-Imam Ali

Kata'ib al-Imam Ali (Arabic: كتائب الإمام علي‎, Kataʾib al-ʾImām ʿAlīy), also known as the Imam Ali Battalions, are the armed wing of the Islamic Movement of Iraq (Harakat al-Iraq al-Islamiyah) and serve as part of the umbrella organization "Popular Mobilization Forces", Kata'ib al-Imam Ali is prominently involved in the Iraqi Civil War, fighting against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).[12]

Kata'ib al-Imam Ali
كتائب الإمام علي
Participant in Iraqi Civil War (2014–2017), Syrian Civil War
Kata'ib al-Imam Ali logo
Kata'ib al-Imam Ali logo
ActiveJune 2014 – present[1]
IdeologyShia Islamism[1]
Wilayat al Faqih
Allegiance Iraq
Area of operationsIraq
Part of
AlliesState allies

Non-state allies

Opponent(s) Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
Kurdistan Region Peshmerga (2017–)[7]
Battles and war(s)Iraqi Civil War (2014–2017)

Syrian Civil War


Kata'ib al-Imam Ali came into existence in June 2014 as the armed wing of the Harakat al-Iraq al-Islamiyah (Movement of the Islamic Iraq) party. While its emergence was linked to the large-scale Shia mobilization after the escalation of Iraq's Sunni Arab insurgency into a full-out civil war, Kata'ib al-Imam Ali is closely connected to older Iraqi Shia Islamist organizations, parties and militias, as well as to the Iranian Quds Force. The group's secretary general Shibl al-Zaydi is affiliated with the Sadrist Movement, and was at one point member of the anti-American Mahdi Army. Kata'ib al-Imam Ali also appears to enjoy the favour of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, leader of the Popular Mobilization Forces, who has at times even personally led the group into battle. Thanks to these links, Kata'ib al-Imam Ali is well-equipped and has been able to recruit veteran militants, allowing a "meteoric growth".[3][1]

Notably, Kata'ib al-Imam Ali has also attempted to rally Syriac Christians to its cause since its formation, based on a purported affinity between Shia Islam and Christians and the supposed betrayal of the Iraqi Christians by Iraqi Kurdistan in course of the Fall of Mosul. In line with these attempts, the group has formed its own, though minor, Christian unit, the "Spirit of God Jesus Son of Mary Battalions".[2]

In late 2014, one of the group's commanders, Abu Azrael, gained prominence after appearing in the media armed with axes, swords and machine guns.[13][14]

In 2015, Kata'ib al-Imam Ali began to send its fighters to Syria, allegedly to protect the Sayyidah Zaynab Shrine,[3] and participated in the Second Battle of Tikrit.[8] In early 2016, its fighters were involved in the Syrian government offensive to reconquer Palmyra and Tadmur from ISIL,[10] and later that year, Kata'ib al-Imam Ali took part in the Battle of Mosul[9] and the Aleppo offensive (November–December 2016).[11]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Kataib al-Imam Ali: Portrait of an Iraqi Shiite Militant Group Fighting ISIS". Washington Institute for Near East Policy. 5 January 2015. Retrieved 30 March 2015.
  2. ^ a b Aymenn Al-Tamimi (31 December 2014). "Sample Concepts of a Christian-Shi'a Alliance in Iraq". Syria Comment. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
  3. ^ a b c "Kata'ib al-Imam Ali". Jihad Intel. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
  4. ^ https://almasdarnews.com/article/tiger-forces-liberate-hill-800-west-palmyra/
  5. ^ http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/iraqi-shiite-foreign-fighters-on-the-rise-again-in-syria
  6. ^ https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/syrian-government-iraqi-reinforcements-reach-southeast-damascus-upcoming-offensive/
  7. ^ https://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2017/10/kurdish-forces-and-iraqi-forces-militias-clash-in-northern-iraq.php
  8. ^ a b "Iranian-backed Shiite militias lead Iraq's fight to retake Tikrit". The Long War Journal. 4 March 2015. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
  9. ^ a b Amir Toumaj (4 November 2016). "Iraqi PMF attempts to cut off Islamic State in Mosul". The Long War Journal. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
  10. ^ a b Leith Fadel (14 March 2016). "Tiger Forces liberate Hill 800 in west Palmyra". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 16 March 2016.
  11. ^ a b Amir Toumaj (9 December 2016). "Array of pro-Syrian government forces advances in Aleppo". Long War Journal. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
  12. ^ "Iraqi Popular Forces Warn to Disclose Coalition's Support for ISIL". Islamic Invitation Turkey. 1 March 2015. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 30 March 2015.
  13. ^ 'The Archangel of Death' fighting Islamic State "BBC News" "March 17, 2015"
  14. ^ "The university lecturer who became an axe-wielding Iraqi soldier known as the 'Angel of Death': Fearsome warrior has become a living legend among those fighting ISIS" Tom Wyke, Mail Online, 13 March 2015. Retrieved 16 March 2015.

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