The leadership of Harakat al Nujaba, or Movement of the Noble, an Iranian-supported Shiite militia which operates in both Iraq and Syria, said it is clearing a road in eastern Anbar province in preparation for an upcoming offensive to retake Fallujah from the Islamic State.
Akram Abbas al Kabi, the Secretary General of Harakat al Nujaba, and Hashem al Musawi, his spokesman both recently commented on the group’s role in operations in and around Fallujah.
Fallujah, which is just 30 miles from Iraq’s capital of Baghdad, was the first major Iraqi city to fall to the Islamic State in January 2014 – while it was still part of al Qaeda’s network.
Kabi said that “Harakat al Nujabas special forces and the Anbar Regiment – the majority of which is comprised of our brothers from the residents of Karma and Fallujah – have begun heading to Fallujah to take part in the large and decisive operation to cut off the head of the snake and to avenge all of the martyrs of Iraq,” according to a translation by Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He made the statement on Nujaba’s offical website.
“We promise the Iraqi people we will have vengeance for every drop of a martyr’s blood from this cradle of terrorism and that there will be no place for the DAISH [Islamic State] within it,” Kabi continued. “We shall purify it from their ritual uncleanness soon and we shall return its honorable residents who have fled from their houses [due to] injustice and aggression.”
Kabi also confirmed that his militia was currently operating in Anbar province in the towns of in Umm al Talaeb and al Rahaliah. He made the statement on March 10 in an interview with newspaper Kayhan, a prominent radical-leaning Iranian news outlet that widely considered to be the supreme leader’s unofficial mouthpiece.
According to Kabi, Harakat al Nujaba also played a key roles in clearing the Samarra-Fallujah line of communication, which is likely the Thar Thar region between the two cities. Thar Thar links Samarra and Fallujah and has been used by the Islamic State to launch attacks on the two cities as well as Baghdad.
Kabi’s spokesman, Hashim al Musawi, echoed his leader’s statements on Fallujah.
“Entering Fallujah city and clearing it is one of our goals that is completely irreversible,” Musawi recently told Mehr News. “The political and media fanfare cannot stop the wheel of the resistance [Shia militias]. They do not have the capability to change the resistance’s plan for entering the terrorist city of Fallujah.”
“The Islamic resistance of Nujaba announces its full readiness to enter Fallujah,” Musawi continued, noting that Harakat al Nujaba was currently deployed to secure the Fallujah-Amirayat road, a notorious haven for jihadists. He also requested media organizations inside and outside of Iraq to carefully publicize field developments and support the militias in the war against the Islamic State.
Harakat al Nujaba and other Iranian-backed Shiite militias will likely engage in the fighting for Fallujah, despite US military commanders’ insistence that “extremist elements” have not participated in operations where the US military is providing support. The US routinely conducts airstrikes and supports Iraqi forces operating in the Fallujah corridor. These militias, which operate under the aegis of Iraqi-government supported Popular Mobilization Force and remain hostile to the US, have been involved in multiple offensives that have been supported by the US, including Baiji, Tikrit, Amerli, and Jurf al Shakr.
Kabi is a designated terrorist, Harakat al Nujaba is a pawn of Iran
Akram Abbas al Kabi, who previously served as a senior commander in both the Mahdi Army and Asaib Ahl al Haq. Kabi was listed by the US as a global terrorist in September 2008 for aiding the Iraqi insurgency. He was listed along with Abdul Reza Shahlai, a deputy commander in Iran’s Qods Force.
Kabi founded Harakat al Nujaba from elements of Hezbollah Brigades and Asaib al Haq, two dangerous Iranian-supported militias, to funnel fighters into Syria to back President Bashir al Assad against Syrian rebels and jihadists. He did this with the support of Iran and Hezbollah, both which have helped build Iraqi Shia militias to operate as states within the Iraqi state.
Kabi has close ties with Iran’s Qods Force. Last year, Kabi was photographed with Qods Force leader Qassem Soliemani during a battlefield tour in Aleppo, Syria. Photographs of the two commanders were published on Harakat Nujaba’s website.
Harakat al Nujaba also touts its relationship with Hezbollah. On its website, the group published a picture of Kabi holding hands with Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah. The two met in 2015 to discuss the security situation in Iraq. Musawi, Nujaba’s spokesman, described his group and Hezbollah as
the “twins of the resistance.”
Cooperation between the two groups and their leaders goes back more than a decade, when Iran’s Qods Force directed Hezbollah to aide in the establishment and training of what US military commanders used to call the “Special Groups.” Qods Force leader Qassem Soliemani, who is frequently seen on Syria and Iraq’s battlefields coordinating with Shiite militias against the Islamic State, and commanders such as Abdul Reza Shahlai were instrumental in establishing the Mahdi Army, Hezbollah Brigades, and offshoots such as the Asaib Ahl al Haq.