Akram al Kaabi (left) with Soleimani
Qassem Soleimani, the commander Iran’s Qods Force, the external operations wing of the Revolutionary Guards Corps, has been photographed with Harakat al Nujaba leader Akram al Kaabi, a US-designated terrorist who fought against US troops in Iraq.
Two photographs, posted on Harakat al Nujaba’s official Facebook page, show Kaabi and Soleimani sitting together in the northern Syrian province of Aleppo. Kaabi was dispatched to Syria earlier this month to help President Bashar al Assad’s forces break the Islamic State’s siege of the Kweiris air base in Aleppo province.
The Kweiris offensive was backed by fighters from Hezbollah, the National Defense Forces (Syrian pro-Assad militias), militias from Iraq, including Harakat al Nujaba, and Iranian troops. Militia groups comprised of Shiite fighters from Afghanistan and Pakistan are reported to have participated in the fighting as well. [For more information, see LWJ report, Assad regime, allies break Islamic State’s siege of air base in Aleppo.]
On its website, Harakat al Nujaba said that “Sheikh Akram al Kaabi entered Aleppo to head a massive force of large reinforcements to lift the siege of Kafraya and al Fua.” The two towns are the regime’s last enclaves in Idlib province and have been under siege by rebels and jihadists, as the latter groups try to consolidate their control over the northwestern province. Harakat al Nujaba has been deployed in Aleppo for some time.
Just last month, Soleimani was photographed with fighters from Harakat al Nujaba in Aleppo. On its official Facebook page, Harakat Nujaba said that “Al Hajj Qassem Soleimani oversees the conduct of the battles, which [are] being waged by the champions of the Islamic Resistance Harakat al Nujaba in Aleppo, Syria.”
Kaabi’s hatred towards the US goes back at least a decade, when he was a commander in Muqtada al Sadr’s Mahdi Army. In 2008, the US government listed Kaabi as an individual who threatens the security of Iraq under Executive Order 13438. Also listed along with Kaabi was Abdul Reza Shahlai, a Qods Froce commander.
The US government said that Kaabi was behind multiple mortar and rocket attacks against the International Zone, or Green Zone, in Baghdad in early 2008. He also financed roadside bomb attacks and recruitment for the Mahdi Army.
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