Kata'ib Hezbollah (Arabic: كتائب حزب الله, Brigades of the Party of God) or Hezbollah Brigades is an Iraqi Shia paramilitary group that is supported by Iran. It has been active in the Iraqi Civil War and the Syrian Civil War. During the Iraq War, the group fought against American invasion forces. The group is commanded by Iranian citizen Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. All members of Kata'ib Hezbollah swear an oath of loyalty to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, and the group openly states that its loyalty is first and foremost to the leadership of Iran.
|Participant in Iraq War|
Iraqi Civil War (2014–2017)
Syrian Civil War
|Active||October 2003 – present|
|Leaders||Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis (Jamal al-Ibrahimi)|
|Size||2,000 (2010; at most) |
10,000 (June 2014)
Over 30,000 (December 2014 claim)
|Part of||Popular Mobilization Forces|
|Originated as||Special Groups|
|Battles and war(s)||Iraq War|
|Designated as a terrorist organisation by|
| United States|
United Arab Emirates
The group's structure is secretive, but Iraqi-Iranian dual national Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, an adviser to Iran's Quds Force and former Badr Organization member, is known to be a senior figure in the group. The group receives training and funding from the Quds Force. The US State department also claimed Lebanon-based Hezbollah provided weapons and training for the group. It came to prominence in 2007 for attacks against American and coalition forces, and was known for uploading its videos of attacks on American forces on the internet.
In Summer 2008 US and Iraqi Forces launched a crackdown against Kata'ib Hezbollah and the "Special Groups", the US military term for Iran-backed militias in Iraq. At least 30 of its members were captured during those months. Many of the group's leaders were captured and US officials claimed that "as result much of the leadership fled to Iran".
On 2 July 2009 the group was added to the U.S. State Department list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. The group was held responsible for numerous IED bombings, mortar, rocket and RPG attacks as well as sniper operations, targeting US and Iraqi Forces and the Green Zone, including a November 2008 rocket attack that killed two U.N. workers.
In December 2009, the group intercepted the unencrypted video feed of MQ-1 Predator UAVs above Iraq.
12 February 2010 a firefight with suspected members of Kata'ib Hezbollah occurred 265 km (165 mi) southeast of Baghdad in a village near the Iranian border, the U.S. military said. Twelve people were arrested, it said. "The joint security team was fired upon by individuals dispersed in multiple residential buildings ... members of the security team returned fire, killing individuals assessed to be enemy combatants," the military said in a statement. The Provincial Iraqi officials said many of the dead were innocent bystanders, and demanded compensation. They said eight people were killed.
On 13 July 2010 General Ray Odierno named Kata'ib Hezbollah as being behind threats against American bases in Iraq. "In the last couple weeks there's been an increased threat ... and so we've increased our security on some of our bases," Odierno told reporters at a briefing in Baghdad.
In July 2019, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern affairs, Joan Polaschik, stated "rogue" Iranian-backed militias plan operations that could kill Americans, coalition partners and Iraqis and U.S. diplomatic facilities and continue to conduct indirect fire attacks. This led the U.S. to remove non-emergency staff from its embassy in Baghdad and close its consulate in Basra. At the same hearing, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East Michael Mulroy said that Iran's "cynical interference" undermines Iraqi interests by supporting to non-compliant militias, more loyal to Tehran than Baghdad, undermining the Iraqi prime minister's authority, preying on ordinary Iraqis by crime and destabilizing the fragile communities liberated from ISIS.
The Al-Qaim border crossing has seen hastened military activity as the group is expected to play an important military and security role as the crossing with Syria is officially opened on September 30, 2019.
In 2013 Kata'ib Hezbollah and other Iraqi Shia militias acknowledged sending fighters to Syria to fight alongside forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, against the Sunni rebels seeking to overthrow him in the Syrian Civil War.
Wathiq al-Batat, a former Kata'ib Hezbollah leader, announced the creation of a new Shia militia, the Mukhtar Army, on 4 February 2013, saying its aim is to defend Shiites and help the government combat terrorism.
In 2014 the group began taking a role in the fight against ISIL in Iraq. Also in 2014, they and six other predominantly Shia Iraqi paramilitary groups formed the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF). Since October 2016, Kata'ib Hezbollah along with the Iraqi army and other PMF has taken part in the Battle of Mosul against ISIL. They have been, alongside other PMF, active in fighting around Tal Afar, severing ISIL's link from Mosul and Tal Afar to the rest of their territory.
- "The Evolution of Iran's Special Groups in Iraq". Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. Archived from the original on 16 February 2017. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
- Group Profile Kata'ib Hezbollah (page 7), 5 March 2010
- Ryan, Missy; Morris, Loveday (27 December 2014). "The U.S. and Iran are aligned in Iraq against the Islamic State – for now". Washington Post. Retrieved 3 January 2015.
- Leith Fadel (19 October 2015). "Two Brigades of Kata'eb Hezbollah Arrive in Aleppo Amid the Presence of General Suleimani". Al-Masdar News.
- "News Article". www.css.ethz.ch.
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 March 2016. Retrieved 16 July 2018.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "US aided Hezbollah Brigades in breaking Islamic State siege of Iraqi town". Long War Journal. 10 September 2014.
- "Syrian government, Iraqi reinforcements reach southeast Damascus for upcoming offensive". 15 May 2017.
- "'سرايا الأشتر'.. تنظيم شيعي مسلح يهدد البحرين".
- "PressReader.com – Connecting People Through News". www.pressreader.com.
- Iraq after America: Strongmen, Sectarians, Resistance. P. 279
- "Iran Is Using The Same Dangerously Effective Strategy in Iraq As It Used in Syria". Business Insider.
- Publisher, Al-Maalomah. "كتائب حزب الله تُفشل خطط البيشمركة وتمنع اعتداءاتها وتصد تقدمها باتجاه الحشد في الطوز – وكالة المعلومة". www.almaalomah.com.
- Roggio, Bill (10 September 2014). "US aided Hezbollah Brigades in breaking ISIL siege of Iraqi town". Long War Journal. Retrieved 30 September 2014.
- Morris, Loveday (29 October 2014). "Iraq's victory over militants in Sunni town underlines challenges government faces". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
- Loveday Morris in Thuluyah for the Washington Post (23 September 2014). "The Iraqi town where former foes are combining to fight Islamic State". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
- Roggio, Bill; Weiss, Caleb (19 October 2015). "Iraqi Army, Shiite militias report success in Baiji". Long War Journal. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
- "Kataib Hezbollah to announce the full control of Baiji in a few hours". 19 June 2015.
- Alice Fordham (7 April 2015). "After Retaking Iraqi City, Shiite Militias Accused of Targeting Sunnis : Parallels". NPR. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
- Alessandria Masi (15 February 2015). "Islamic State: Iraq Battle Against ISIS For Tikrit Led By Iran-Backed Shiite Militia Forces". International Business Times. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
- Leith Fadel. "Two Brigades of Kata'eb Hezbollah Arrive in Aleppo Amid the Presence of General Suleimani". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
- Leith Fadel (1 February 2016). "Syrian Army, Hezbollah launch preliminary offensive in northern Aleppo". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 5 February 2016.
- "Breaking: Syrian Army, Hezbollah liberate Al-Amariyah in northern Palmyra". 26 March 2016.
- "Foreign Terrorist Organizations".
- "مجلس الوزراء يعتمد قائمة التنظيمات الإرهابية. – WAM". 17 November 2014. Archived from the original on 17 November 2014.
- John Pike. "Kata'ib Hizballah (KH) (Battalions of the Party of God)". Globalsecurity.org. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
- "Iran moves missiles to Iraq in warning to enemies – sources". Euronews. Retrieved 2 September 2018.
- Roggio, Bill (10 September 2014). "US aided Hezbollah Brigades in breaking Islamic State siege of Iraqi town". Long War Journal. Public Multimedia. Retrieved 30 September 2014.
- al-Salhy, Suadad (10 April 2013). "Iraqi Shi'ite militants start to acknowledge role in Syria". Reuters. Retrieved 10 April 2015.
- Daniel Cassman. "Kata'ib Hezbollah | Mapping Militant Organizations". Web.stanford.edu. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
- Mapping Militant Organizations. "Kata'ib Hezbollah." Stanford University. Last modified May 2019.
- "Kata'ib Hezbollah and the Intricate Web of Iranian Military Involvement in Iraq". Jamestown Foundation.
- Google News US puts sanctions on Iraq Shiite group, Iran adviser, 1 July 2009, AFP
- "U.S. declares Iraq-based group foreign terrorist organization". Reuters. 2 July 2009. Retrieved 22 July 2009.
- Roggio, Bill (21 July 2008). "Hezbollah Brigades propaganda specialist captured in Baghdad". Long War Journal. Retrieved 10 April 2015.
- Google News US says five Iranian proxy insurgents held in Iraq, 27 September 2008 Archived 3 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine
- Roggio, Bill (21 July 2008). "Iraqi, US forces keep pressure on the Mahdi Army". Long War Journal. Retrieved 10 April 2015.
- Hoffman, Michael; Reed, John; Gould, Joe (20 December 2009), "Fixes on the way for nonsecure UAV links", Navy Times, retrieved 21 December 2009
- "Five killed as U.S., Iraqi troops raid border village". Reuters. 12 February 2010.
- "Iran-backed force threatens U.S. Iraq bases – general". Reuters. 13 July 2010.
- Jakes, Lara; Abdul-Zahra, Qassim (1 July 2011). "Shiite militias increase attacks on US troops". Telegram & Gazette. Associated Press.
- "US officials name 3 Iraqi militias armed by Iran to kill yanks". Iran Times. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
- Rees, Sebastian. (26 September 2019). "Iran's Trojan Army: How Iranian Militia Have Merged with Iraq's Popular Mobilisation Forces." Al Bawaba News website Retrieved 30 September 2019.
- Frantzman, Seth J. (30 September 2019). "Sensitive and Strategic Border Crossing between Iraq-Syria Opens." Jerusalem Post website Retrieved 30 September 2019.
- "Iraq's Hezbollah forms new militia to frighten protesters: Sunni leader". Al Arabiya. 27 February 2013. Archived from the original on 3 June 2016. Retrieved 10 April 2015.
- Mansour, Renad; Jabar, Faleh A. (28 April 2017). "The Popular Mobilization Forces and Iraq's Future". Carnegie Middle East Center. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
- Reuters, 29 October 2016, Iran-backed Shi'ite militias to join assault near Mosul on new front
- "Iraqi Shi'ite forces aim to clear border strip with Syria". Reuters. 13 December 2016.