Photo Credit: The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center
Harakat al-Nujaba chief Sheikh Akram al-Kaabi (R) with departed Quds force commander Qasem Soleimani.

Explosions were heard at dawn Thursday in the Damascus countryside, the result of Israeli air strikes that targeted the center of the Iraqi pro-Iranian Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba movement in the Sayyida Zeinab area, south of the capital, Damascus, and a training camp also belonging to the same militia, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

“Explosions were also heard in the Al-Kiswah area coinciding with the launch of Syrian air defense missiles,” SOHR added, noting that the regime’s air force was unable to thwart the Israeli attack, while ambulances were heard heading toward the targeted areas amid news of casualties.

The attack on the Iraqi pro-Iranian Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba base in Syria, May 9, 2024. /  Syrian Observatory for Human Rights

A Syrian military source told the state news agency SANA that “at approximately 03:20 AM on Thursday, the Israeli enemy launched an aerial attack from the direction of the occupied Syrian Golan, targeting a building in the Damascus countryside. Our air defenses repelled the aggression’s missiles and shot down some of them. The aggression caused only material losses.”

According to The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, Harakat al-Nujaba (The Movement of the Noble Ones) is an Iraqi Shi’ite militia established in 2013 by Sheikh Akram al-Kaabi. The sheik had close relations with Iran during his extensive guerrilla attacks against the American forces in Iraq. Ostensibly the al-Nujaba are subordinate to the “popular mobilization,” an umbrella organization of Shi’ite militias in Iraq, most of which are sponsored by Iran.

However, in reality, the al-Nujaba, with three brigades totaling about 9,000 fighters, two deployed in Iraq and one in Syria, is handled by the Iranian Quds Force, from which it receives preferential treatment in the allotment of resources.

The al-Nujaba is also supported by Hezbollah, with which Sheikh Akram al-Kaabi has had close relations for many years. Iranian and Hezbollah support turned the al-Nujaba into one of the most powerful and important Shi’ite militias in Iraq.

Thursday’s attack was the third against Iranian proxy militias in Syria since the beginning of May.


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