Iraq News

IRGC lures Iraqi youth to fight in Syria, Yemen

By Faris al-Omran

Iraqi elements of the IRGC-affiliated Imam Ali Battalions are seen in a photo posted online by the militia on September 27th. 

Iraqi elements of the IRGC-affiliated Imam Ali Battalions are seen in a photo posted online by the militia on September 27th. 

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has been preying on Iraqi youth by recruiting them to fight in areas of regional conflict such as Syria and Yemen, Iraqi observers and analysts told Diyaruna.

Recruitment operations are carried out in secret locations by Iraqi militias loyal to Iran, who entice vulnerable youth to join their ranks with money or through extortion and coercion.

"Iran and its military arm, the IRGC, are pushing for the recruitment of more Iraqi fighters," said Ninawa tribal spokesman Sheikh Muzahim al-Huweit.

"IRGC-affiliated Iraqi armed militias, such as Asaib Ahl al-Haq, Kataib Hizbullah (Hizbullah Battalions) in Iraq and Harakat al-Nujaba are managing the recruitment operations," he told Diyaruna.

Iraqi fighters with Harakat al-Nujaba are seen during a symbolic funeral for their dead at al-Najaf cemetery in a photo posted online by the militia on December 11th, 2017. 

Iraqi fighters with Harakat al-Nujaba are seen during a symbolic funeral for their dead at al-Najaf cemetery in a photo posted online by the militia on December 11th, 2017. 

"These militias have offices that are secretly recruiting teenagers and youngsters from poor families and enticing them with money, including a large initial payment paid to each volunteer that is sometimes as much as $9,000," he said.

This is followed by a monthly salary paid to the recruit or his family, he added.

"Enticement is not the only means they employ, as they also use extortion and coercion," he said.

Recruitment efforts in Iraq

"The pace of recruitment has not slowed down since the outbreak of the conflict in Syria, as the militias are trying in various ways to fill the need for fighters at all costs to satisfy the Iranians," al-Huweit said.

"There are recruitment offices in Diyala province run by the Qais al-Khazaali-led Asaib Ahl al-Haq, and more were opened in Ninawa province recently, in the Ninawa Plains specifically," he added.

There also have been reports that a new office has opened in the Tuz Khurmato area in eastern Salaheddine province.

"Recruits are made to undergo physical training and training on the use of weapons in camps belonging to the militias under the pretext of preparing them to fight ISIS remnants and maintain security," he said.

"The reality is otherwise," he said, stressing that "what is happening must not be tolerated".

"Iran is depleting our youth and using them as fuel to ignite the region and tamper with its security," he added. "The militias must be held accountable and their activities that undermine the country's security must be stopped."

Fighters smuggled out of Iraq

"The movement of new recruits to Syria and Yemen is done the same way used to smuggle weapons into these countries," strategy expert Muayyed Salem al-Juhaishi told Diyaruna.

Recruits "are smuggled from Iraq to Syria by land, or by air as tourists", he said. "Sometimes their first destination is Lebanon, and from there to Yemen with false passports, or they are smuggled by sea."

Current estimates put the number of Iraqis, Lebanese and Afghans recruited by the IRGC to fight in Syria at between 20,000 and 30,000, with most of these fighters deployed to the fronts in eastern and southern rural areas of Syria.

Armed Iraqi groups active in Syria include the Imam Ali Battalions, Harakat al-Nujaba, Sayyed al-Shuhada Battalions and Imam al-Hussein Brigade. There are no accurate data on the number of Iraqi fighters in Yemen.

On July 7th, Sayyed al-Shuhada Battalions leader Abu Walaa al-Waeli announced that he is willing to go fight in Yemen, describing himself as a "humble soldier" of Abdul Malik al-Houthi, the leader of the Houthis (Ansarallah).

That announcement underscored the "militias' intention to implement Iran's agendas in the region, namely to fuel sectarian conflicts", warned strategy and military analyst Rabih al-Juwari.

"Iran is pursuing what is in line with its goals and interests, but the ones who pay the ultimate price are those who are being misled," he told Diyaruna.

"Iran is responsible for the ruin of the Iraqi youth by thrusting them into the vortex of wars and fighting outside their country," he added.

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These are just lies and nothing else.


Why does al-Hawit consider defending Iraq’s sanctities by Iraqis to be a massacre for young men, bearing in mind that those who helped with it were the people of western Iraq, together with the people of Ninawa and others, who turned Iraq into an area of fighting? In addition, people’s honour was violated, other sects were forced out of Iraq, women were sold as slaves, and there was jihad annikah, etc. Iraq and its people have witnessed, and are still witnessing, such woes. Everybody knows that ISIS was made by Zionists, Americans, Gulf countries and others. We belong to God and to Him we shall return! God suffices us and He is the best disposer of affairs against all those who wanted corruption and destruction for Iraq, the country of prophets, pious people and civilisations which contributed to the development of humankind.


God suffices us and He is the best disposer of affairs!


This is one 100% true. Even the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) is an Iranian group which carries out Iran’s agendas in the region. Iran wants to restore its Persian empire, using those deceived Shias under false pretexts, including defense of their sect which is in danger. Iran tells those people that Sunnis are their biggest enemies, and that they must be eliminated. In this way, poor Shias believe those lies.


Why should it be permitted for Saudi Arabia to bring in Sudanese and Egyptian mercenaries and not permitted for Iran to recruit Iraqis?


Dear Abul Deyar, after the 2003 takfiri attack on Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain and Yemen by the known terrorist groups, which were shamelessly and publicly supported by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE and Turkey under the supervision of their American and Israeli masters, terrorists came from all over the world, killed, engaged in crime and raped women. It would be only natural that an action will be me with a reaction! Therefore, honest mujahideen came from all over the Arab and Muslim world to support the oppressed peoples at the behest of rational Islamic marjaiyah. This was not related to Iraqis alone, but people came from all Arab and Muslim countries because marjaiyah, as you know, is for all people not just Iraqis. After that, borders disappeared and Muslims defeated the infidels and the followers of America, Israel and Al Saud. This will remain a thorn in their eyes. In all oppressed countries, we will sacrifice blood for the sake of God even if polytheists hate it!


Shias have the right to defend themselves after Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the dogs of Gulf brought street dogs from Afghanistan China and Pakistan. Saudi Arabia’s intelligence agency had an agenda and they used Islamic associations in other countries to recruit many elements as part of Nusra army and other takfirist gangs. Fatwas were issued from Beit Allah al-Haram (Mecca). Those dogs are being trained in Libya and Tunisia with media and logistical support from the intelligence agencies, and are then transferred to Turkey from which they entered Syria and Iraq. These are facts.