The Tehran-controlled Iraqi militia Harakat al Nujaba has announced its participation in a battle raging east of Damascus, joining pro-regime forces in the Jobar and Abbasin districts. Earlier this week, jihadists, Islamists and rebels affiliated with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) launched a surprise offensive in the eastern outskirts of the Syrian capital. The al Qaeda-led joint venture Haya’t Tahrir al Sham has a significant role in the insurgent assault and launched several suicide bombings early on in the battle.
Harakat al Nujaba operates as an extension of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Formed in 2013, the militia answers directly to Major General Qassem Soleimani, chief of the Qods Force, which is the IRGC’s extraterritorial branch. Harakat al Nujaba promotes its loyalty to Iran’s Supreme Leader and velayat-e faqih, or “Guardianship of the Jurist,” the Islamic Republic’s founding ideology.
The group is one of several Iraqi militias fighting as part of the IRGC-led foreign legion in Syria, with the intent of defending the holy Shiite Sayyida Zaynab Mosque in Damascus. These forces have been instrumental in preventing the fall of the Syrian regime and have contributed to significant victories, such as the conquest of Aleppo late last year.
Harakat al Nujaba propaganda photos from deployment to eastern Damascus: