Saraya al-Salam

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Saraya al-Salam
Founding leaderMuqtada al-Sadr
Dates of operation2014–2021 (as a Popular Mobilization Forces branch)

2021–2022 (as a semi-governmental political initiative)

2022–today (as a suspended de facto political group)[8][9]
Allegiance Iraq
IdeologyShia Islamism
Iraqi nationalism
Size10,000–50,000 (2014, independent claims)[11][12]
Part of
AlliesOther Shia militias (de jure)
None (de facto)[13]
Opponents Islamic State
Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq (2022)[14]
Battles and warsIraq–ISIL War ISIL insurgency in Iraq (2017–present)
Flag of Iraq, used by the group along with the dove.[7]

Saraya al-Salam (Arabic: سرايا السلام)[17][18] is an Iraqi Shia militia formed in 2014. They are a part of the Popular Mobilization Forces and are a partial revival of the Mahdi Army. The name Saraya al-Salam means "Peace Brigades", to signify this the militia also uses a pigeon as a heraldic symbol. The group's name, together with its logo – which features a dove flying in front of an Iraqi flag – reflects Sadr's effort to maintain a peace with both Sunnis and the Iraqi central government.[7] As of 2022, the group's operations are frozen, although it is still active but in smaller scale.


Muqtada al-Sadr, son of an anti-Saddam activist Muhammad-Sadiq al-Sadr who, after his newspaper al-Hamza was shut down by Coalition Provisional Authority, founded his first militia organization Mahdi Army that got support from both Sunni and Shia elements of Iraqi society uniting them against the coalition forces in occasions such as First Battle of Fallujah and Siege of Sadr City, the slogans and banners carrying propaganda in support of Sadr and Mahdi army were present in both occasions.[19][20]

After Siege of Sadr City, Muqtada al-Sadr Sadr and his supporters, the Sadrists, went into silence except for resurgence in different group names such as the Special Groups which did had Sadrist influence however were loyal to Iraqi government eventually with considerable Iranian-influence rather than an independent ideology.[21]

Sadr reformed his militia forces in 2014,[17] to protect Shia shrines from the Islamic State.[22] This new militia was almost entirely formed from the Mahdi Army remnants. According to Faleh A. Jabar and Renad Mansour, the Sadrists have largely been cut off from Iranian funding.[21]

In June 2014, these Peace Companies marched in Sadr City, a slum in Baghdad infamous for being the prime Mahdi Army center of operations during the Iraq War.[23] In addition to guarding shrines, the Peace Companies participated in offensive operations such as the recapture of Jurf Al Nasr in October 2014.[24] They suspended their activities temporarily in February 2015,[24] but were active in the Second Battle of Tikrit in March.[25]

The Peace Brigades announced that they were able to liberate large areas of Jurf al-Sakhar and later announced the handover of all these liberated areas to the security forces. The Peace Brigades were frozen by Muqtada al-Sadr until further notice in a statement he issued on February 17, 2015, and al-Sadr announced on 8 March 2015, with a statement published by his office about lifting the freeze and involving Saraya al-Salam fighters in the Mosul operations

After that statement, the brigade fighters also captured large areas on Samarra and Al-Ishaqi Island in Saladin Governorate and were responsible for liberating what remained of them.

Jurf al-Sakhar is a district about 60 km southwest of Baghdad. It forms a border triangle between northern Babylon, eastern Anbar, and southern Baghdad. It is located on the Euphrates River and is characterized by its vast agricultural lands. It was controlled by ISIS, and its members used to launch from it to carry out terrorist operations in Karbala and Babylon. The Peace Brigades intervened directly in Jurf al Sakhar. On October 15, 2014, Saraya Al-Salam forces were able to liberate the entire Lakes region and hand it over to the security forces.[26][27]

Amerli is a district of Tuz Khurmatu district with a Shiite Turkmen majority. On June 10, 2014, ISIS imposed a siege on the city after the fall of Mosul. During the siege period, they cut off water and prevented food and medicine from entering the city for 80 days. The people of the city resisted the siege, prevented ISIS from invading their city, and were able to repel its repeated attacks. On August 23, 2014, Al-Sadr's office published a statement by the leader of the Sadrist movement, Muqtada Al-Sadr, in which he called on the Peace Brigades to coordinate with the security forces to end the siege on Amirli. Indeed, large forces arrived at the outskirts of the city and began preparing for a large operation to lift the siege. The Peace Brigades launched operations, "We are coming, Amirli." On August 31, joint forces from the Iraqi army, the Popular Mobilization Units, and the Peace Brigades succeeded in breaking the siege on the city of Amerli and entered the city from several axes, while the Peace Brigades announced after Three days enabled it to liberate the village of Albu Hassan on the outskirts of the city of Amirli[28][29]

After ISIS took control of the entire island of Samarra, which is located west of the city of Samarra, which is considered a holy city for Shiites and is a link between the governorates of Salah al-Din, Anbar, and Nineveh. It extends over vast areas that include different and varied terrain and has become a safe haven for Al-Qaeda militants and later ISIS militants.

On March 1, 2016, the Peace Brigades announced the launch of major joint operations collaborating with the Iraqi Army, the Federal Police, and fighters of the Peace Brigades and the Popular Mobilization Forces to liberate this island. The battle continued for three days, during which the joint forces were able to reach Lake Tharthar after the forces launched from the area, with a liberated area of approximately 42 kilometers.[30][31]

After defeat of ISIS, prime minister Adel Abdul Mahdi issued a decision to organize the Popular Mobilization Forces with army and police formations and confine weapons to the state.[32] As the result Sadr has closed the militia's majority of operations in 2021, however it still operates as a "lesson in politics".[33]

In 2022, the Shia groups rebelled against each other after Sad declared he will resign from politics and as Iran is suspected to have influence over the Shia populace armed groups broke alliance in de facto in terms of power struggle.[13] There has been an argument that a new Shia internal conflict could start as a result of Mohammed Shia' Al Sudani's decisions on reforming the groups and Iran-centered power struggle in the region.[34] There also been a report of Saraya Al-Salam supporters in 2023 entering a minor skirmish with Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, another Shia militia in the region.[35] In similar manner, Sadr has reported to call for an action against United States in context of Conflict in Gaza, implying a support for Gaza.[36] As of 2023, it is also reported that Saraya al-Salam has been departed from Popular Moblisation Forces, therefore all activities beside the government sanctioned ones are independent actions, Sadr also have been orchestrated protests using his networks established with the militia to orchestrate protests in support of Hamas.[37]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bach, Marc; Müller, Alexander. "Internationale Nachrichten aus aller Welt". (in German). Archived from the original on 20 Oct 2019. The white dove refers to the militia of the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, Seraya al-Salam ("peace army"). Today it is an official part of the Iraqi Army of Iraqi Armed Forces, without being entirely under control of the Iraqi government.
  2. ^ "Samarra For UNESCO World Heritage Travellers". Retrieved 27 December 2023. The population is predominantly Sunni, but the law enforcement is provided by a Sadrist Shi'ite militia (Saraya al-Salam – their emblem, the peace dove is ubiquitous on grafitties in the city).
  3. ^ Nada, Garett; Rowan, Mattison (10 November 2021). "Profiles: Pro-Iran Militias in Iraq | The Iran Primer". Retrieved 27 December 2023. The militia's logo features a dove as well as a fighter holding an Iraqi flag and a rifle.
  4. ^ Rubin, Alissa J. (9 July 2014). "On the Road to Samarra, Glimpses of Iraq's New Fractured Reality". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 December 2023. flies the flag of a new militia formed by the radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, bearing a dove and his likeness.
  5. ^ El-Ghobashy, Tamer (5 July 2018). "Public enemy or savior? An Iraqi city could reveal the true Moqtada al-Sadr". Washington Post. Retrieved 27 December 2023. logo of the Peace Brigades, a silhouetted fighter triumphantly holding an Iraqi flag, a rifle slung over his shoulder, next to a white dove in flight and the motto: "We bow to no one but God."
  6. ^ "'Salam 313': Sadr's motorbike militia gains foothold in Europe". FRB-I. A backpatch of a freestanding dove is worn proudly by gang members. Their chosen insignia is borrowed from Sarayat al Salam, the Peace Brigade militia firebrand cleric Muqtada al Sadr commands.
  7. ^ a b c "The Militarization of Iraqi Politics" (PDF). Masarat (17): 12. 18 March 2015. Retrieved 27 December 2023. The group's name, together with its logo – which features a dove flying in front of an Iraqi flag – reflects Sadr's effort to distance this new iteration from the Mahdi Army's tradition of brutal violence against both Sunnis and the Iraqi central government.
  8. ^ "Sadr suspends all armed factions, including Peace Brigades". The Arab Weekly.
  9. ^ Aug. 30, A. supporter of Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr rolls a mattress as an encampment in Baghdad's high-security Green Zone is dismantled on (30 August 2022). "Protesters withdraw from Baghdad's Green Zone – Al-Monitor: Independent, trusted coverage of the Middle East".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  10. ^ "Iraqi Shi'ite militants start to acknowledge role in Syria". Reuters. 10 April 2013. Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  11. ^ "Iraqi Shia groups rally in show of power". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 21 January 2015.[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ "Iraq crisis: Isis allies 'turn on jihadists' as 17 killed in clashes near Kirkuk". Telegraph. 21 June 2014. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  13. ^ a b Chulov, Martin (30 August 2022). "Why are Shia groups fighting each other in Iraq?". The Guardian.
  14. ^ "Iraq: Heightened security reported in Amil District, Baghdad, following armed clashes in area late Dec. 25". Iraq: Heightened security reported in Amil District, Baghdad, following armed clashes in area late Dec. 25 | Crisis24.
  15. ^ "Video shows burning village near Tikrit : "Shiite militias wanted revenge"". The Observers. Archived from the original on 17 March 2015. Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  16. ^ "Iraqi forces pause in battle to drive Islamic State from Tikrit". Reuters. 13 March 2015. Archived from the original on 28 September 2015. Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  17. ^ a b Daniel Cassman. "Mahdi Army". Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  18. ^ "Shia paramilitary 'Peace Brigades' kill 30 ISIS fighters says Akili – Iraqi News". Iraq news, the latest Iraq news. 4 September 2014. Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  19. ^ Malkasian, Carter. "Signaling resolve, democratization, and the first battle of Fallujah." Journal of Strategic Studies 29.3 (2006): 423–452.
  20. ^ "اسرار من معركة الفلوجة عام 2004 كيف تعاون مقتدى الصدر مع البعثيين والتكفيريين وقاتل الى جانبهم". 23 May 2008.
  21. ^ a b Mansour, Renad; Jabar, Faleh A. (28 April 2017). "The Popular Mobilization Forces and Iraq's Future". Carnegie Middle East Center. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Archived from the original on 4 June 2020. Retrieved 24 June 2017.
  22. ^ Cassandra Vinograd (23 June 2014). "Anti-U.S. Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr Retakes Stage Amid Iraq Turmoil". NBC News. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  23. ^ "Iraqi Shia groups rally in show of power". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  24. ^ a b Loveday Morris; Mustafa Salim (17 February 2015). "Iraqi Shiite cleric recalls militiamen from fight against Islamic State". Washington Post. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  25. ^ Staff (15 March 2015). "Iraqi militia loyal to radical cleric al-Sadr joins fight for IS-held Tikrit". Global News. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  26. ^ القاضي, وقاص. "جرف الصخر.. معسكر للباسيج الإيراني وسط العراق". الجزيرة نت (in Arabic).
  27. ^ "تأسست في 2014 لمواجهة تنظيم الدولة ويقدر عددها بـ50 ألف مسلح.. "سرايا السلام" الوجه الآخر لـ"جيش المهدي"". الجزيرة نت (in Arabic).
  28. ^ "قوات عراقية مدعومة بمليشيات تفك الحصار عن آمرلي". الجزيرة نت (in Arabic).
  29. ^ "سرايا السلام تقيم صلاة قادمون يا آمرلي في أطراف الناحية – قناة العالم الاخبارية". (in Arabic).
  30. ^ "Shia militia hands over parts of Tikrit to Iraqi army".
  31. ^ "Iraq launches sweeping anti-IS group operation north of Baghdad". France 24. 1 March 2016.
  32. ^ "عبد المهدي يعيد هيكلة {الحشد} العراقي". (in Arabic).
  33. ^ "Al-Sadr closes Saraya al-Salam headquarters in all but four governorates, "Goodwill initiative" and "lesson in politics" he says". Shafaq News.
  34. ^ "Shiite rivalries could break Iraq's deceptive calm in 2023". Brookings.
  35. ^ "ISHM: November 2 – 9, 2023 – Iraq | ReliefWeb". 9 November 2023.
  36. ^ Rasul, Azhi. "Iraq's Sadr calls for closure of US embassy". Retrieved 29 December 2023.
  37. ^ Luizard, Pierre-Jean. "The Role of Iraqi Militias in the Gaza War".