Iraqi Shi’ites Headed to Syria’s Aleppo to Fight Nusra

Fighters to Reinforce Areas South of the City

by Jason Ditz, September 07, 2016

1,000 Iraqi Shi’ite fighters belonging to the Harakat al-Nujab militia have reportedly been deployed to Syria’s northern Aleppo Province to back the Syrian military in its fighting against the Nusra Front in the area. Militia spokesmen say they’ll be primarily reinforcing areas south of the city of Aleppo itself.

The militia already has an unspecified number of fighters inside Syria, and its official Twitter account shows pictures of its fighters inside Syria, posing with Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani. Syria has depended heavily on fighters from foreign Shi’ite militias in the civil war.

Though it was not specified exactly where those troops are going to be south of Aleppo, it is likely that they will be involved in defending the artillery academy, which is in the southern part of the city, and which was briefly captured by Nusra forces. Control of the academy is the key to defending the government half of the city.

It is interesting to see more Shi’ite forces trickling into Syria from Iraq, as both nations have struggled with ISIS in recent years, and both have used such militias in the fighting. This may reflect growing reluctance among Shi’ite militias to fight in Iraq over ISIS-held territory that is increasingly deeply in Sunni territory, and where the militias are not particularly welcome.

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