Free Iraqi Army
|Free Iraqi Army|
الجيش العراقي الحرParticipant in the Syrian Civil War and the Iraqi insurgency
Old Flag of Iraq
|Active||19 July 2012 – August 2014|
|Area of operations|
Anbar Tribal Councils
Free Syrian Army
|Battles and wars||Iraqi insurgency|
The Free Iraqi Army (Arabic: الجيش العراقي الحر, Al-Jayš Al-‘Irāqī Al-Ḥurr, FIA) was a Sunni rebel group formed in the western Sunni-majority provinces of Iraq from Iraqi supporters of the Free Syrian Army rebels fighting in the Syrian Civil War. The group aimed to overthrow the Shia-dominated government of Iraq, believing that they would gain support in this from Syria should the rebels be successful in overthrowing Bashar al-Assad. An Iraqi counterterror spokesman denied this, saying that the name is merely being used by al-Qaeda in Iraq to "attract the support of the Iraqi Sunnis by making use of the strife going on in Syria."
Aside from Anbar Province, the FIA reportedly had a presence in Fallujah, along the Syrian border near the town of Al-Qaim, and in Mosul in the north of Iraq. A recruiting commander for the group told a reporter from The Daily Star newspaper in Lebanon that the group was opposed to both Al-Qaeda in Iraq and their opponents in the Sahwa militia. The same commander claimed that the group received financial support from cross-border tribal extensions and Sunni sympathizers in the Persian gulf states of Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.
On 4 February 2013, Wathiq al-Batat of the Shiite militant group Hezbollah in Iraq, announced the formation of the Mukhtar Army to fight against al-Qaeda and the Free Iraqi Army. In August 2014, the group became defunct, after a large offensive by ISIL in northern Iraq, with activity on their websites ceasing.
Links to al-Qaeda and the Iraqi Ba'athists
Despite the group's denial of links to al-Qaeda, the group had been accused of being affiliated with the group. These accusations of links with both al-Qaeda and the Ba'athists led to a Najaf Shiite figure associated with the State of Law Coalition issuing a fatwa against supplying the group with weapons.
- "How Syria's civil war is spilling over". Al Jazeera English. Retrieved 2014-08-19.
- "INSIGHT: Iraq's Tensions Heightened by Syria Conflict". Middle East Voices (VOA). 29 November 2012.
- "Syrian Soldiers Killed In Iraq: Reports". RTT News. 4 March 2013.
- "Free Iraqi Army inspired by Syria war". The Daily Star (Lebanon). 10 November 2012.
- "Iraqis locked in rival sectarian narratives". BBC News. 21 November 2012.
- "Al-Qaida making comeback in Iraq, officials say". The Guardian. 9 October 2012.
- "Briefing: A guide to defusing sectarian tensions in Iraq". IRIN. 13 February 2013.
- "Syrian War's Spillover Threatens a Fragile Iraq". The New York Times. 26 February 2013.
- عضو في الدفاع النيابية: الجيش العراقي الحر إسم آخر لتنظيم القاعدة (in Arabic). Iraqi Communist Party. 20 December 2012.
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