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Iraq, Iran step up training of militia fighters

Hundreds of fighters are being prepared for potential conflict, according to Lebanese media.

Members of Hashed al-shaabi (Popular Mobilization) forces carry the coffin of a comrade who died in U.S. air strikes targeting Iran-backed groups the day before, during his funeral at the Hashed al-shaabi forces' headquarters in Baghdad on January 25, 2024. Photo by Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP via Getty Images.
Members of Hashed al-shaabi (Popular Mobilization) forces carry the coffin of a comrade who died in U.S. air strikes targeting Iran-backed groups the day before, during his funeral at the Hashed al-shaabi forces' headquarters in Baghdad on January 25, 2024. Photo by Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP via Getty Images.

Iraq and Iran are reportedly ramping up efforts to train hundreds of fighters for pro-Iranian militias, particularly the Hezbollah Brigades in Iraq, according to Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar.

Sources told Al-Akhbar that training is taking place both within Iraq and outside its borders, under the supervision of Iranian experts. They confirmed that these exercises are being conducted against the backdrop of a potential all-out war in the region, especially following the recent escalation between Israel and Hezbollah.

The sources noted that while the training of fighters from Iraqi factions is not new, there has been an increased focus on this effort since the Oct. 7 Hamas onslaught on Israel and the outbreak of the Gaza war. The report states that advanced weapons, rockets and drones have arrived in Iraq from Iran and Russia, necessitating specialized training.

The newspaper, known for its pro-Iranian stance, further claimed that there are more than 10 training camps in various Iraqi cities, working on two missions: training regular fighters, and training individuals under the supervision of military experts from Iran. These individuals are trained to the level of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

According to the sources, there are groups currently receiving training in Iran, and who are about to complete their training and return to Iraq. These groups include members of Hashd al-Shaabi, Hezbollah Brigades in Iraq, and the Al-Nujaba Movement, all pro-Iranian militias. The training is not only military but also prepares individuals capable of conducting recruitment from an ideological and jihadist perspective.

Firas Al-Yasser, a member of the political bureau of the Al-Nujaba Movement, told Al-Akhbar, “The resistance continues to prepare, as there are calculations that the war might expand. Therefore, there are many preparations currently underway. There is training of combat forces in military centers.” 

He added that the militias have their own agendas. Al-Yasser mentioned that “there are American bases scattered in the region, and if aggression begins against Lebanon, I expect there will be strategic attacks against these bases.”

Originally published by Israel Hayom.

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