1. History of using militant forces in al-Anbar Province
- Dispatching militants to the al-Anbar front dates back to mid-January 2014. After Maliki’s classic army and police forces suffered a large number of casualties and lost their spirits for urban warfare in their initial attacks against cities and towns in al-Anbar, the Quds Force began to take action and ordered its associated militias, including Asaeb al-Haq and Katayeb Hezbollah, along with Badr forces, to rush to the support of Maliki’s army and police units in al-Anbar.
To ensure these forces were effective the Quds Force launched a 15-day training course on urban warfare in its bases for these dispatched units (similar to its policy in Syria).
- Hadi al-Ameri held a session in Baghdad’s Jaderiye district for Shiite sheikhs on January 6, ordering them to campaign their forces in support of Maliki and go to war against the ‘Wahabis’.
- The first obligation assigned to these militant forces was to enter the ranks and files of Maliki’s military forces, lift their spirits and take part in military-intelligence activities. The first such groups were used in Ramadi and Garme.
- On January 20 it was determined that these militant forces had been campaigning much more actively for their men to take part in the al-Anbar front, including al-Ameri’s Badr organization holding sessions with tribes around Baghdad and asking them to recruit forces for the al-Anbar battles. In Baghdad two Badr officials by the names of Seyed Alaq, a member of the Baghdad city council, and Jazayeri, head of the Baghdad Provincial Council Security Committee, were appointed to follow up on these measures. Maliki personally asked the Badr organization to: “Send the experiences military personnel, especially senior Badr members that participated in the so-called jihadi operations, to support army units.”
- Starting late January the Quds Force entered the al-Anbar war much more actively and in parallel to dispatching more and more militants to the al-Anbar front. As a result, new groups named “Heydariun” were formed consisting of members from the Asaeb, Badr and Katayeb groups. Their mission was to launch military operations along with Maliki’s government forces. Maliki’s support for these forces increased, including issuing black ID cards from the Prime Ministry Office to the more senior Asaeb forces that were dispatched to al-Anbar. At the time these forces were sent mainly to Ramadi and Garme with the objective of entering urban warfare to both lift the spirits of the military forces and carry out various operations. They also sought to gather intelligence, carry out back-up operations and artillery barrages on tribal forces positions.
Little by little Maliki’s military forces suffered more and more defeats in al-Anbar, and the army was literally on the verge of crumbling. At this point it was obvious that the army was no longer able to continue this war. Quds Force advisors emphasized on the more active use of militant forces in this war, citing the experience of employing Lebanese Hezbollah forces and Iraqi militants in Syria.