Hizballah Cavalcade: Roundup of Iraqis Killed in Syria, Part 3

NOTE: For prior parts in the Hizballah Cavalcade series you can view an archive of it all here.

Roundup of Iraqis Killed in Syria, Part 3

By Phillip Smyth

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Collecting information for profiles of Iraqi Shia killed fighting in Syria became more complicated following further acknowledgements by Hizballah’s leadership of their involvement in Syria.[1] Concurrently, Liwa’a Abu Fadl al-Abbas (LAFA), the Damascus-based pro-Assad Shia militia which includes a large number of Iraqi Shia, also became more open with their recognition of Lebanese Hizballah members killed serving with the group. Thus, announcements-of-death for Iraqi LAFA members were often mixed with large numbers of Lebanese Hizballah martyrdom announcements.

Martyrdom declarations for Iraqi Shia have also continued to follow a format where the majority of dead individuals have only one or two photographs of themselves released. Often, the photographs of these dead fighters are found on an official martyrdom poster produced by the Iraqi group to which these fighters originally belonged. On rare occasions, killed Iraqi Shia will have many photographs of them or their funerals displayed online. One Facebook-hosted funeral photo album, released for Al-Sa’id Mutheneh ‘Abees Khafeef, numbered around 80 photographs.

It has become increasingly clear that the majority of Iraqi Shia killed fighting in Syria have belonged to the Iranian created and backed, Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq. Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq has not announced the loss of any of their members via their website. Instead, the group has relied on quasi-official and pro-Liwa’a Abu Fadl al-Abbas Facebook pages to report its dead. At times, announcements for killed Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq members have first emerged on Facebook pages and forums (including official forums) for Lebanese Hizballah. This likely demonstrates another deep link the group has with Lebanese Hizballah.[2]

Kata’ib Hizballah, another Iraqi organization created by the Iranians, had announced that it lost a number of members in Syria in mid-March-mid-April. However, this organization has not issued any new statements regarding further losses.[3]

This post only includes five dead from a period starting on May 18, 2013 and ending on May 31, 2013. One killed Iraqi Shia fighter reported dead on May 9th, was also confirmed.  Despite the lower number of Iraqi Shia declared as, “killed fighting in Syria”; there is a strong possibility reported numbers of Iraqi Shia killed in Syria may rise in the coming weeks.

Nine pro-Hizballah, pro-Liwa’a Abu Fadl al-Abbas, Iraqi Shia, and pro-Assad Facebook pages (all Shia oriented) were utilized in the collection of information for this list. Two pro-Hizballah forums—one official and one quasi-official—were also employed for confirmation purposes.

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Name: Al-Sa’id Mutheneh ‘Abees Khafeef

Affiliated With: Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq/Liwa’a Abu Fadl al-Abbas

Death Announced: May 18, 2013 (via Facebook). The funeral was held on May 18, 2013 in Baghdad.

Notes:  Khafeef’s funeral had an entire photo album on Facebook devoted to it. Additionally a video of the funeral was also posted to YouTube.

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Name: Hamid Abu ‘Amran al-Bahadali (A.K.A. Abu ‘Amran/’Umran)

Affiliated With: Liwa’a Abu Fadl al-Abbas/Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq

Death Announced: May 26, 2013 (two Facebook pages claimed his death was announced on May 25th)

Notes:  Bahadali was initially only claimed by Liwa’a Abu Fadl al-Abbas as a member. However, on May 28th it was announced on a prominent pro-Hizballah/pro-LAFA Facebook page that he also belonged to Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq. His funeral was reportedly held in Baghdad.

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Name: Dergham Hisham al-Sa’di al-Baya (A.K.A. Dergham al-Sa’di)

Affiliated With: Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq/Liwa’a Abu Fadl al-Abbas

Death Announced: May 23, 2013. Funeral was held (in Iraq) on May 24, 2013.

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Name: Iyad Fadhl Matar al-Sarifawi

Affiliated With: Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq

Death Announced: May 28, 2013, (reportedly killed on May 26, 2013)

Notes:  This is the first Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq martyrdom poster (for a member killed in Syria) to feature Iraq’s late Grand Ayatollah Muhammed Sadiq al-Sadr (left) and Iranian Supreme Leader, Grand Ayatollah Khamenei (right) as bereaved over the loss of a fighter. Al-Sarifawi’s death could only be confirmed on two pro-Hizballah Facebook pages. Since all other Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq members killed in Syria have also fought under the banner of Liwa’a Abu Fadl al-Abbas, it is probable that Sarifawi fought as a member of that organization. However, any affiliation with LAFA has not been publicized.

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Name: Haidar Jabari Salman al-Jazari

Affiliated With: Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada/Liwa’a Abu Fadl al-Abbas

Death Announced: May 24, 2013 (via YouTube video posting). Funeral was held in Basra, Iraq on May 23, 2013.

Notes:  In the video for Jazari, it is claimed he was a “Commander” for the “Sacred defense” of the Zaynab Shrine in Damascus. Jazari’s claimed affiliation with Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada (on his martyrdom poster) is another important facet of his background. The group was first mentioned in late-April during a funeral for an Iraqi Shia in Basra. Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada may be a new organization used to vector volunteer fighters to fight at the Zaynab Shrine. As with other Iraqi Shia killed in Syria, Liwa’a Abu Fadl al-Abbas also claimed Jazari as a member.

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Name: Maytham Khalaf al-‘Aqabi (A.K.A. Ghayth al-‘Asab)

Affiliated With: Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq/Liwa’a Abu Fadl al-Abbas

Death Announced: May 9, 2013

Notes:  As with most other killed Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq members, ‘Aqabi’s poster features Iraq’s late Grand Ayatollah Muhammed Sadiq al-Sadr (left) and Iranian Supreme Leader, Grand Ayatollah Khamenei (right). His Iraqi roots were not hidden, with Iraq’s flag and the symbol for Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq pictured between the two ayatollahs.

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[1] “Hezbollah leader Nasrallah vows victory in Syria”, BBC, May 25, 2013, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22669230.

[2] See: “Analysis Of The History And Growth Of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, The League Of The Righteous, An Interview With Institute for the Study of War’s Sam Wyer”, Musings On Iraq Blog, January 7, 2013, http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/01/analysis-of-history-and-growth-of-asaib.html

[3] Note: As with Lebanese Hizballah, Iraq’s Kata’ib Hizballah has never officially announced its members were being killed in Syria.  Instead, the group claimed its fighters were killed while performing their, “Jihadist duties”.