|Participant in Iraq War
Syrian Civil War
|Headquarters||Middle and Southern Iraq|
2,000 (2010; at most)
|Part of||Popular Mobilization Forces|
|Originated as||Special Groups|
Kata'ib Hezbollah (KH) (Arabic: كتائب حزب الله) or Hezbollah Battalions is an Iraqi Shi'a paramilitary group active in the Iraqi insurgency and Syrian Civil War. It was originally an Iran backed insurgent group that fought against American and coalition forces during the Iraq War.
The group was formed 4 months before the beginning of the Iraq War and carrying out their first attack in October 2003. It was said to be an offshoot of the "Special Groups", which were the Iranian backed elements of the Mahdi Army. Katai'b Hezbollah was a separate and independent organization and not part of the Mahdi Army and its Special Groups. According to the American forces it received funding, training, logistics, and material from Iran's Quds Force, claims which were denied by Iran. Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, an adviser to Iran's Quds Force is known to be a senior adviser to Kata'ib Hezbollah. The US State department also claimed Lebanon-based Hezbollah provided weapons and training for the group. The group was known for uploading its videos of attacks on American forces on the internet.
In Summer 2008 US and Iraqi Forces launched a crackdown against Kata'ib Hezbollah (and the Special Groups). At least 30 of its members were captured during those months. Many of the group's leaders were captured and US officials claimed that "as result much of the leadership fled to Iran".
On 2 July 2009 the group was added to the U.S. State Department list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. The group was held responsible for numerous IED bombings, mortar, rocket and RPG attacks as well as sniper operations, targeting US and Iraqi Forces and the Green Zone, including a November 2008 rocket attack that killed two U.N. workers.
In December, 2009, the group intercepted the unencrypted video feed of MQ-1 Predator UAVs above Iraq.
12 February 2010 a firefight with suspected members of Kata'ib Hezbollah 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 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 milita, 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 prominent role in the fight against ISIL in Iraq, and it was reported that it had received close air support from the U.S. Air Force during the Iranian-led intervention in Iraq.
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