Kata'ib Hezbollah is officially listed as a terrorist organisation by the governments the United Arab Emirates, Japan,
and the United States.
The group was founded by Jamal Jafaar al-Ibrahim, known as Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis
, an Iraqi-Iranian dual national designated as terrorist in 2009.
Its first members were from the Badr Organization
. The group's structure is secretive, but al-Muhandis, an adviser to Iran's Quds Force
and former Badr Organization member, was known to be a senior figure in the group,
and its commander.
The group receives training and funding from the Quds Force.
The US State department also claimed Lebanon-based Hezbollah
provided weapons and training for the group.
Iraq insurgency (2003–11)
In mid-2008, US and Iraqi forces launched a crackdown against the group and the "Special Groups
", the US military term for Iran-backed militias in Iraq. At least 30 of its members were captured during those months. Many of the group's leaders were also captured and US officials claimed that "as result much of the leadership fled to Iran".
In December 2009, the group intercepted the unencrypted video feed of MQ-1 Predator
UAVs above Iraq.
On 12 February 2010, a firefight with suspected members of the group occurred 265 km (165 mi) southeast of Baghdad
in a village near the Iranian border, the U.S. military said. Twelve people were arrested, it said. "The joint security team was fired upon by individuals dispersed in multiple residential buildings ... members of the security team returned fire, killing individuals assessed to be enemy combatants," the military said in a statement. The Provincial Iraqi officials said many of the dead were innocent bystanders, and demanded compensation. They said eight people were killed.
On 13 July 2010, General Ray Odierno
named Kata'ib Hezbollah as being behind threats against American bases in Iraq
. "In the last couple weeks there's been an increased threat ... and so we've increased our security on some of our bases," Odierno told reporters at a briefing in Baghdad.
In July 2011, an Iraqi intelligence official estimated the group's size at 1,000 fighters and said the militants were paid between $300 to $500 per month.
The Al-Qa'im border crossing
has seen hastened military activity as the group is expected to play an important military and security role as the crossing with Syria is officially opened on September 30, 2019.
In 2013, Kata'ib Hezbollah and other Iraqi Shia militias acknowledged sending fighters to Syria to fight alongside forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad
, against the Sunni rebels seeking to overthrow him in the Syrian Civil War
Wathiq al-Batat, a former Kata'ib Hezbollah leader, announced the creation of a new Shia militia, the Mukhtar Army
, on 4 February 2013, saying its aim is to defend Shiites
and help the government combat terrorism.
In 2014, the group began taking a role in the fight against ISIL in Iraq.
Also in 2014, they and six other predominantly Shia Iraqi paramilitary groups formed the Popular Mobilization Forces
Since October 2016, Kata'ib Hezbollah along with the Iraqi army and other PMF has taken part in the Battle of Mosul
They have been, alongside other PMF, active in fighting around Tal Afar
, severing ISIL's link from Mosul and Tal Afar to the rest of their territory.
On 29 December 2019, the United States bombed the headquarters
of Kata'ib Hezbollah near Al-Qa'im
The airstrikes targeted three Kata'ib Hezbollah locations in Iraq and two in Syria, and included weapons depots and command posts, according to Reuters and a US military statement.
The attack was in retaliation after a barrage of over 30 rockets were fired towards the K-1
two days earlier and other attacks on bases with US forces in Iraq. The earlier attack killed a US contractor and wounded several Iraqi and US soldiers.
Twenty-five people were reportedly killed in the US airstrikes and 51 members also wounded.
In response to the American bombing of the Kata'ib Hezbollah headquarters on 29 December, protesters attacked
the US embassy in the Green Zone in Baghdad on 31 December 2019.
Many of the protesters were members of the Kata'ib Hezbollah militia, including Kata'ib Hezbollah commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper
warned on 2 January that the group may be planning new attacks in Iraq, and that the U.S. is prepared to launch preemptive attacks.
Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was killed by a US airstike at the Baghdad International Airport
on 3 January 2020.
On 27 February 2020, the U.S. State and Treasury departments designated Ahmad al-Hamidawi, the secretary general of Kataib Hezbollah, as a "specially designated global terrorist."
On 25 June 2020, Iraqi security forces raided Kata'ib Hezbollah base in Dora
, southern Baghdad
and detained at least 14 militia members.
In March 2020, the U.S. made some crack down on Kata'ib Hezbollah in Iraq, directly revolving around the 2020 Camp Taji attacks.
On 11 October 2020, Kata'ib Hezbollah announced that they have agreed to ceasefire operations against United States interests in Iraq.
On 26 February 2021, U.S. air strikes hit targets used by the militia and other Iranian-backed groups in Syria.
These strikes were carried out in retaliation for an attack on a U.S. air base in Erbil, Iraq
on 15 February 2021.
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