Iraqi militia commemorates “martyrs” who fought Israel in 1973

Kata’ib Hezbollah is closely linked to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps

May 25, 2019 20:21
2 minute read.
Iraqi militia commemorates “martyrs” who fought Israel in 1973

Hezbollah and Syrian flags are seen fluttering in Fleita, Syria August 2, 2017. (photo credit: OMAR SANADIKI/REUTERS)

Kata’ib Hezbollah, an Iraq-based Shi’ite militia, honored families of “Iraqi martyrs” who had fought against Israel in the 1973. A report on Al-Etejah TV, which is linked to Kata’ib Hezbollah, posted about the ceremony on Saturday.

Iraq sent an armored division and aircraft to support the Syrian army during the battles near the Golan in 1973. The Iraqi 3rd Armored division and thousands of men were part of the 4th Corps of the Iraqi army. The unit suffered casualties, including several hundred Iraqis who were estimated killed in the conflict.

Kata’ib Hezbollah was founded after the US invasion of Iraq and led by Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. It is closely linked to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps who Muhandis had worked with. It is also linked with other large pro-Iranian Shi’ite militias in Iraq such as the Badr Organization. Muhandis had trained in Iran and was sentenced to death in Kuwait for his role in a 1983 terror attack against US forces. The US designated Kata’ib Hezbollah a terrorist organization in 2009. It was involved in numerous attacks against US forces in Iraq.

In recent years Kata’ib Hezbollah has been a key part of the Popular Mobilization Forces which helped fight Islamic State but which have also opposed continued US presence in Iraq. They are now an official paramilitary force of the Iraqi government. The group has also been involved in the Syrian civil war and one of its units was targeted by an airstrike in the summer of 2018. It blamed the US for the strike but subsequent reports in Arabic media also pointed the finger at Israel.  In June 2018 the organization threatened to retaliate against Israel and the US.

According to other reports the group also encouraged the “Palestinian resistance” on May 25 in an event for Iraqi youth. It said fighting for Jerusalem was an important goal. According to El-Nashra news website it supported Gaza’s continue fight against the “Zionist enemy.” A statement from the group said it was not on the frontline against the US and its “agents” in fighting the “Zionist entity.”

The statement about the 1973 war is unusual because Shi’ite militias generally have their origin in the fight against the leadership of Iraq in the 1970s and 1980s. However the 1973 war took place before the Islamic Revolution in Iran which inspired the men who formed Kata’ib Hezbollah. As Iraqi patriots they thus seek to connect themselves to that pre-1979 era by claiming the 1973 Iraqi soldiers as their ancestors. For them it is a clear link to the current statements supports Hamas and Hezbollah against Israel.

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