A video uploaded to YouTube appears to show a large Hezbollah Brigades convoy transporting weapons, troops, and armored vehicles to the front to fight the Islamic State.
Several American-made military vehicles, including an M1 Abrams tank, M113 armored personnel carriers, Humvees, and Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles (MRAP), as well as Iranian-made Safir 4x4s and technicals (armed pickup trucks) are in the convoy.
The Hezbollah Brigades is US-designated foreign terrorist organization that has been involved in killing American soldiers in Iraq.
At one point in the video, a transport truck is shown carrying an M1 Abrams tank. The Hezbollah Brigades’ flag is flying over the tank and other US-made vehicles. The M1, which is the main battle tank of the US Army, has been sold to and utilized by the Iraqi Army.
The screen shot above marks the first evidence of Iranian-backed militias having M1 tanks at their disposal. It is unclear if the Hezbollah Brigades seized the M1 from an Iraqi Army unit that dissolved in the face of the Islamic State’s onslaught, or if the Iraqi military gave the militia the tank. Several Iraqi M1s have been photographed after being destroyed by the Islamic State.
The Hezbollah Brigades, or Kata’ib Hezbollah, receives funding, training, logistics, guidance, and material support from the Qods Force, the external operations wing of the Revolutionary Guard Corps. The radical militia has joined the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq. In addition, other Iranian-supported Shia militias, such as Asaib al Haq, Badr Organization, and Muqtada al Sadr’s Promised Day Brigades have played a prominent role on the battlefield. these militias have played key rolls in securing Amerli, Baiji, and Jurf al Sakhar, and are on the forefront of the fighting in Diyala province.
The United States designated the Hezbollah Brigades as a terrorist organization in July 2009. On the same day, the US added a Qods Force commander who supported the “Special Groups,” such as the Hezbollah Brigades, to the list of specially designated global terrorists. The so-called Special Groups are responsible for the deaths of hundrends of US and allied soldiers between 2004 and 2011. [For more information, see LWJ report, US sanctions Iraqi Hezbollah Brigades and Qods Force adviser.]
The organization has also been responsible for several American deaths during the war in Iraq. The US State Department described the Hezbollah Brigades as “a radical Shia Islamist group with an anti-Western establishment and jihadist ideology that has conducted attacks against Iraqi, US, and Coalition targets in Iraq.”
The group has been directly linked to the murder of two UN employees in November 2008. Additionally, the Iranian-backed extremists conducted attacks against US and Iraqi forces, using explosively-formed penetrators and improvised rocket-assisted mortars, which have been described as flying improvised explosive devices.
Despite this, the group was assisted by US airstrikes when Iraqi and Kurdish forces broke the siege of Amerli in Salahaddin province. The US military said it launched airstrikes against the Islamic State outside of the town “[a]t the request of the Government of Iraq” and “in support of an operation to deliver humanitarian assistance to address the humanitarian crisis and protect the civilians trapped in Amerli.” [See LWJ report US aided Hezbollah Brigades in breaking Islamic State siege of Iraqi town]
Video of Hezbollah Brigades convoy: