A man appears in a recent video to be showing off rows of militiamen in the background as they conduct combat drills. He begins by giving an overhead view of several fighters of the Imam Ali Brigade, an Iranian militia group within Iranian Militias in Iraq and Syria (IMIS), marching in formation as they receive training.
Before concluding the clip, he declares (to Yemen, God willing). This is not the first time that militias under IMIS voice their willingness to join Houthi militants in Yemen.
At a press conference earlier
this year, the secretary general of Kata’ib Sayyid
al-Shuhada, another IMIS group, publicly volunteered to join the ranks of
Houthi leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi, stating that “I will be wherever master
Abdul Malik al-Houthi needs me to be.”
Several investigations by the United Nations and the U.S. military have shown that the Quds Force, the elite branch of the Iranian Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) responsible for external operations, has provided support, including lethal weapons, to the Yemeni Houthi rebels. Last week, UN arms experts boarded a US vessel to investigate whether more than 2,500 AK-47 rifles en route to Yemen seized by the U.S. originated from Iran. Thus, the involvement of Kata’ib al-Imam Ali in Yemen raises further concern that the IRGC may use its Iraqi Shiite militia allies in Yemen and potentially other regional conflicts as the fight against ISIS in Syria and Iraq is coming to an end. Soon after Kata’ib al-Imam Ali was founded, they appeared in Syria to fight alongside the Assad regime.