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Shiite militias in the Syrian war: the Iranian factor
Material posted: Publication date: 02-11-2016
The territory of the Middle East remains, as in ancient times, the arena of confrontation. Where once led into battle their armies of Darius and Alexander the great were together in brutal combat the soldiers of Rome and Parthia, where the troops of the Prophet Mohammed fought against the Byzantines, and later fought against each other, the crusaders and the soldiers of Salah al-DIN – all these lands to once again represent the battlefield is not only the main powers in the region, but also the leading countries in international relations. The only difference is that Arsenal struggle has expanded considerably and includes in addition to the military and even diplomatic, political, economic, and informational tools.

The war taking place in the region, became a confrontation of the wars of new type, which in the literature is called "hybrid" / "linear" / "non-conventional". It is worth noting here that the rigid definition of wars of this type are still not developed, which probably is a logical consequence of a complex set of components, the nature of such confrontations.

In our days the war on the territory of Syria and Iraq has become a platform where crossed and mixed up many interests: here and fight the government of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad against the opposition of different shades of " moderation," the struggle of the Syrian and Iraqi government with international terrorism in the face of the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda "Jabhat Fatah al sham" ( ex - Frente al Nusra) and the Islamic state ( banned in Russia); the confrontation of the interests of Iran on the one hand, and the oil monarchies of the Persian Gulf on the other; the confrontation between Russia and the United States; Turkey and an elected official of the Syrian leadership; Shia and Sunni etc.

Written by A. E. Snesarev lines: "once Again, but now, not Nations, but individual tribes and different groups of the population do not find other means to resolve their disputes and harassment, as recourse to war – the means brutal and bloody, but, alas, decisive, promising and lasting fruit" has acquired over the past few years for the people of Syria and Iraq, the tragic actuality [1].

A plurality of groups, alliances, coalitions created and continues to create political, religious, ethnic, and social foundations are one of the main distinguishing points as the Syrian and Iraq war. The situation fits the words of Russian military theorist E. E. Messner " In such coalition wars can be neither clearly defined objectives nor a clear strategy. Too many people are interested in figures, and sometimes the interests of not only trudnosgoraemyh, but even the opposite" [2].

Russia actively intervened in the war in Syria and take a leadership role in it, is extremely important in the fight against international terrorism not only have reliable allies, but also to learn from their experience in wars of this type. At the moment such a state is the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI). The Iranian military involvement in Syria and Iraq is a vivid example of a case when a state deploys the war directly affects its interests ( the war launched against Iran's ally Bashar al-Assad and the hatred of radical Islamists to the Shiite – this is the case) in their favor, and uses a combat action to increase their own influence.

And if today's conflicts are obvious benefits to learning various examples of anti-government groups and unions with different ideological content, and the study methods used against such groups is also important.

For Iran, as mentioned above, war is waged against the government of Bashar al-Assad is a war not so much against Iran's interests, as against the basic ideology underlying the Iranian state. This lies in the ideology of "exporting the Islamic revolution", as reflected in article 11 of the Iranian Constitution. The most successful example of implementation of this provision is the operation in Lebanon since the beginning of the 80s of the XX century the organization of Hezbollah, sponsored by Iran. To ensure a particularly important role was played by Syria, through which Lebanon was carried out in arms, humanitarian goods, and specialists. The defeat of Assad would mean for Iran's gradual closure of the hostile environment and the failure of the defining foreign policy concept.

For this reason, since the fighting in Syria, Iran is actively involved in addition to military advisers and supplies of weapons one important resource: the ideology of Shiism.

The point here is that for Islam the role of Syria as a historical and cultural region called "sham" is very large. Syria is mentioned in the hadith of the Prophet Muhammad. For example:
For example, "Blessed be the Great Syria," said the Prophet. We asked: "Why,o Messenger of Allah?"
He replied: "Because the angels of the most merciful spread their wings over it."

Or this: "there will Come a time when going to three different forces: an army in sham, an army in Yemen and an army in Iraq... should You choose sham, because truly this is the best of lands of Allah, for which He selects His elect servants! Indeed, Allah vouched for me sham and its people".

Historically, the current territory of the Syrian Arab Republic keeps a lot of monuments to Islam including the mosque of Meadow in Damascus, where, according to the eschatological beliefs of Islam, on the eve of the day of judgment will come, the Prophet Jesus ( Christianity - Jesus Christ). Also in Syria, the tombs of historical figures, which the Shiite ideology represent a place of worship. It is, first and foremost, the mosque of Saida Zeinab in Damascus, built, according to legend, the burial place of the granddaughter of the prophet Muhammad. Since the ideology of radical Islamism believes that the honoring of saints in Islam and the administration on the burial places of a religious cult is evidence of a violation of one of the basic precepts of the inadmissibility of giving to Allah, and, therefore, a great sin. As a result, Shiite shrines are constantly exposed to terrorist attacks from radical Islamists.

With the beginning of the war in Syria, the danger of such a plan has increased dramatically, and Iran used the factor of the need to protect sacred Shia places to recruit volunteers. Thus, there is a quite interesting situation: probation the Sunni side, the recruitment of volunteers for various anti - government factions, especially the openly terrorist, under the pretext of the Yom Kippur War in the Holy land of sham against departed from the "true" Islam of secular governments and the Shiites ( the so-called "rapiditos" in the interpretation of Islamic radicals), and from the Shiites is a war for defense of the saints for them. It turns out that there are two variants of Jihad Sunni and Shiite. This situation is even more common in Iraq, where the main Shiite shrines.

For a more accurate understanding of the system and the structure of the various Shiite groups created in the course of the Syrian war, with the direct participation of Iranian advisers or its Pro-Iranian in ideology forces you to turn to the speech of the Secretary General of Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah on may 24, 2015. He said: "We adhere to the Golden equation: the army, people and resistance...Today we offer this equation for all residents of the region to enable them to achieve victory" [3].

Under the resistance is not only Hezbollah, as an organization, Islamic resistance, but this concept in principle. ""Mukawama al Islamiya" ( the Islamic resistance Arab.) this is an important part of the ideology of modern Iran, involving not only the construction of an ideal theocratic state ( Vilayat-e faqih), but also support all those who are outside share these views: "Muslims, those who believe in the Mahdi Promised and looked forward to its phenomena responsible for the creation of a revolutionary situation and the relevant conditions in the world, which would promote the opening of his serene Highness the Mahdi and the victory of his rebellion..." [4]. This is a quote from the book "Imamate and imams" one of the leading Iranian theologians Ayatollah Ibrahim Amini. I.e., the Islamic resistance is part of the program of export of the Islamic revolution in its Iranian version.

With the beginning of the Syrian war, as mentioned above, the question arose about the protection of the Shiite shrines. Analysis of the reasons why certain Shiite groups were created either in Syria or had been transferred there from Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan ,and Afghanistan shows that the ideological basis of their appearance was the protection of the mosque of Saida Zeinab in Damascus.

In addition to the parts of the resistance of the Lebanese Hezbollah in the framework of the equation was talking about Hassan Nasrallah, are the following:

1. "Liwa Abu al-Fadl al – Abbas" ( LAFAYETTE). The first of its formation originated in 2012, the Acquisition is performed in a mixed manner: the unit includes not only local Syrian Shi'ites, but also Iraqi refugees who lived in the beginning of the war in Syria, plus a number of volunteers from Iraq. In 2014, LAFAYETTE broke Liva Haidar al Karar (LCA), consisting of direct Syrian Shiites. Fighting LAFAYETTE led mainly in the regions of Damascus and Aleppo [5]. With some caution we can agree with the opinion of some Western analysts who believe that LAFAYETTE is a network structure consisting of separate groups.

For example, "Liwa Assad Allah al-Ghalib Fi al Iraq WA sham" belongs to the above network [6]. It is interesting to note that among Iraqi volunteers LAFAYETTE were many former members of the "Mahdi Army", a group of Iraqi supporters of Shiite theologian Moqtada Al-Sadr, who actively fought against the American occupation authorities in Iraq from 2004 to 2008

2. The Shiite division, which was transferred from Iraq during the war. As the Shiite version of Jihad in the war with Syria served as a defensive and aimed at protection of the Holy places of Shiism, with the development of the war from Iraq were moved to different units.

Among them the most distinguished "Asaib AHL al Haqq", which is "zero" fought against the Americans along with the "Mahdi Army" in Iraq, and the American version has the name "Khazali Special Group". Also considered to be a network organization [7].

In addition to her Iraqi Shiites represented Iraqi units "Hezbollah" ("Harakat Hezbollah al Nujaba", "Kataib Hezbollah"), and the "Kataib Sayid al-Shuhada" (kssh). The latter is a paramilitary arm of the organization Badr - the Iraqi political party, and previously the military wing of the Supreme Council for Islamic revolution in Iraq, established in 1982 in Iran to fight Saddam Hussein. Ie created in Iran to implement its ideology in Iraq, and then transferred to Syria, kssh and Badr are in addition to Hezbollah's another example of implementation of the strategy of "exporting the Islamic revolution" [8].

3. Separately, the Syrian war are the teams created by Iran from the Shiites of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Accurate and specific information about them a little, but according to reports it is possible to judge the following: in the modern Islamic Republic of Iran has several million refugee Afghans and Pakistanis. It's mostly Afghan and Pakistani Hazaras are Shia Muslims, including the Islamic revolutionary guard Corps recruited people for the war in Syria [ 9]. They form two teams:
"Fatimid" Afghan "content," and "Synbian" with Pakistan [10] .

Also resistance "equation," Nasrallah said about the people. In Syria, this part is represented by the Syrian National defence forces (FDN). Paramilitary Pro-government forces in the Syrian Arab Republic. Represent the militia, the creation of which is attributed to the Iranian trainers from the IRGC and personally General Qasem Soleimani, NSO created in the image of the Iranian paramilitary organization "Basij" [11].

What can be grouped under a General category army includes Iranian military advisers and instructors of the Islamic revolutionary guard Corps and its special forces, "al Quds" led by General Qasem Soleimani. The death of several Brigadier generals from the revolutionary guards on the front lines of the Syrian conflict , confirmed in Iran, leaves no doubt about that. In addition, in April, Iranian General Ali Arasteh said that Iran sent to Syria division 65 th air brigade of special purpose from the Ministry of defence of the Islamic Republic of Iran [12].

Thus, it is possible to draw the following conclusions:

1. If a more detailed look at the structure of the origin and functioning of the Shiite factions in the Syrian war, it becomes clear that this is not a spontaneously organized group, as part of actions on the Iranian or Pro-Iranian forces (IRGC, Hezbollah, Badr) aid to its ally Bashar Assad and his government. It is particularly noteworthy that the text presents only the most basic groupings, but at the same time, many of them consist of smaller, or are a kind of primary structure, from which new groups.

For example, Hezbollah was created during the war, a number of individual units, specific areas ( these include "Fawj al - Imam al- Huja", "al Ghaliboun: Saraya al Muqawama al Islamiya Fi Suriya", "Jund al-Mahdi", etc.) [13]. A kind of hallmark of these groups is the presence of their emblems characteristic elements of symbolism in the form of a vertically outstretched right hand gripping the gun. These characters are always firmly given to understand about the affiliation of groups to the structures of Hezbollah ( the "gun in hand" came from the logo of the Islamic revolutionary guard Corps), regardless of country of origin.

2. The role of Hezbollah as part of Iran's regional strategy has increased. This is confirmed by the events of may 2016, when the organization made the decision to significantly restrict its involvement in the fighting, lamenting the fact that the agreement between Russia and the US "went sideways" to "Hezbollah" and resulted in losses among the personnel of the Lebanese resistance.

These actions from one of the strongest factions in the Syrian conflict can be a signal from Iran that does not always has a positive Outlook for Contracting between Russia and the United States [14].

3. The analysis of combat actions that have been and are Shiite groups clearly indicates that they are in the entire Syrian war was arguably the most combat-ready divisions among Pro-government forces. This is due to the fact that the number of soldiers present, Iraqi or Lebanese experience in fighting and with a high ideological motivation level.

Thus, here we can talk about the combined factor that includes a high level of training Iranian instructors, and a clear understanding of each individual member of the Shiite group to which he arrived in Syria.

4. Typical is the point that going to Syria from a number of volunteers to the Jihad in defense of Shiite Holy places is in the first place, and then support the government of Bashar al-Assad [15].

5. Iran and its structure is not fully exploited his experiences in Iraq, but also substantially supplemented and developed. This also applies to transfer from one hot spot to another different Shiite divisions. A number of them at the beginning of the active expansion of the "Islamic state" in Iraq in the summer of 2014 were in Syria, and then were transferred under Baghdad, where he managed to stop the advance of is militants. Later, some Shiites have returned to Syria.

The Russian Federation, which for more than a year is an active participant in the war in Syria, the experience of its ally Iran could be taken into account when interacting with the local population in understanding the specifics of local social and religious situation, with supporting organizations on the territory of other States allied forces ( in conflict regions – the people's militias or militias) , and in the conduct of an active foreign policy in the context of severe sanctions.


  1. A. E. Snesarev. "Philosophy of war". [Electronic resource] // Andrey E. Snesarev ( 1865-1937), website.
    URL: (date accessed 30. 10. 2016) .
  2. E. E. Messner, "the Face of modern warfare" // if you Want peace, fight a myatezhvoyna! The creative legacy of E. E. Messner, the Russian military collection. [Electronic resource] // Military literature, the website
    URL: (accessed 31. 10. 2016)
  3. The Speech Hassan Nasrallah 24. 05. 2016 // [Electronic resource] YouTube
    URL: (date accessed: 30. 10. 2016)
  4. Ayatollah Ibrahim Amini "Imamate and imams" // [Electronic resource] Official site of the Ayatollah Ibrahim Amini.
    ( date accessed: 30. 10. 2016)
  5. Michael Knights "Iran''s Foreign Legion: The Role of Iraqi Shiite Militias in Syria" // [Electronic resource] Washington Institute for Near East policy.
    URL: ( accessed: 31. 10. 2016)
  6. Liwa Assad Allah al-Ghalib // [Electronic resource] Intel Jihad: jihad identifires database.
    (date accessed: 30. 10. 2016)
  7. Omar al - Jaffal "Iraqi Shiites join Syria war" // [Electronic resource] Al – Monitor.
    URL: ( date accessed: 30. 10. 2016)
  8. Phillip Smyth "Kata'ib Sayyid al-Shuhada Emerges: Updates on the New Iraqi Shia Militia Supplying Fighters to Syria" // [Electronic resource].
    URL: (accessed: 31. 10. 2016)
  9. Phillip Smyth "Iran''s Afghan Shiite Fighters in Syria" // [ Electronic resource]
    Washington Institute for Near East policy
    URL: ( date accessed: 30. 10. 2016)
  10. Liwa Zainebiyoun: Syria''s Pakistani Fighters // [ Electronic resource] Iraqeye
    URL: ( accessed: 31. 10. 2016)
  11. Will Fulton, Joseph Holiday, Sam Wyer "Iranian strategy in Syria" // [Electronic resource] Institute for the study of war
    URL: (date accessed: 30. 10. 2016)
  12. Iranian Army Commandos in Syria on an Advisory Mission // [ Electronic resource] Tasnim News Agency.
    URL: ( accessed: 31. 10. 2016)
  13. Eg.: Junud al-Mahdi // [Electronic resource] Intel Jihad: jihad identifires database.
    URL: ( accessed: 31. 10. 2016)
  14. Anton Mardas "War in Syria: Hezbollah out of the fight" // [Electronic resource] "Free Press."
    URL: ( accessed: 31. 10. 2016)
  15. Saeed Kamali Dehghan "Afghan refugees in Iran being sent to fight and die for Assad in Syria" // [Electronic resource] "The Guardian"
    URL: ( accessed: 31. 10. 2016)

Nemtyrev Michael

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