What is The Shi’ite Militia Hezbollah al-Nujaba and What are They Doing in Syria

On the night of May 8-9, an airstrike was launched against a building not far from the Sayyida Zaynab neighborhood on the outskirts of Damascus. This region has long been associated with Iran’s involvement in Syria (see our report on the Sayyida Zaynab area).

Various accounts released in the days following the incident indicate that it was aimed against the Shiite Hezbollah al-Nujaba militia’s headquarters. According to images taken at the scene, the structure appears to have been destroyed.

Several reports suggested that Israel was behind the attack, and that this is the first time Israel had acted directly against this militia.

Above: The location of the attack on Al-Nujaba headquarters in Syria

The Hezbollah al-Nujaba militia is an Iraqi Shiite militia formed in 2013.
It was founded with Iranian sponsorship and funds to recruit Shiite fighters to combat ISIS in Syria. Al-Nujaba is presently part of the Iraqi umbrella group Al-Hashd al-Sha’abi, estimated to have over 10,000 operatives.

Above: Hezbollah al-Nujaba militia insignia. The resemblance to the Hezbollah Lebanon insignia is clear.

The al-Nujaba militia was among the first forces Iran sent to Syria to assist the Assad regime during the country’s civil war, and its first operatives arrived in the country back in 2013. Its operatives fought in a number of sectors, the most prominent of which were Damascus, Aleppo, Hama and Latakia.

Above: An al-Nujaba combatant waves a militia flag at the Al-Walid Mosque in the town of al-‘Aws in Aleppo province after the takeover of the town.

The movement’s secretary general is cleric Akram Abbas al-Ka’abi, who has declared his loyalty to Iran’s Supreme Leader and the Islamic Revolution and is known to have good ties with the Iranian regime.
Al-Nujaba operates under the guidance of IRGC Quds Force, and it operates closely with the Iraqi Kata’ib Hezbollah militia and the Lebanese Hezbollah organization.

Above: Hezbollah militia secretary general Al-Nujaba Akram Abbas al-Ka’abi.

Al-Nujaba’s leaders have previously said that they will support Hezbollah in any future conflict with Israel, and have formed the Golan Liberation Brigade to that end.

In addition, the militia operates smaller sub-organizations that are loosely subordinate to it. These include, among others, Liwa Ammar ibn Yasir, Liwa al-Hamad, and Liwa al-Imam al-Hasan al-Mojtaba.

The deployment of Shiite militias to Syria aligned with Iran’s Middle East expansion strategy, strengthening Iran’s grip on the area and establishing a land corridor from Iran to Lebanon.

Even after the civil war ended, al-Nujaba operatives remained in Syria, and the organization now operates in both Syria and Iraq. The militia members are regarded as one of the most prominent Iranian proxy armies fighting in Syria.

Above: Akram Abbas al-Ka’abi with Hassan Nasrallah, Ismail Kaani and Qasem Suleimani
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Boaz Shapira

Boaz Shapira

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