Basra (IraqiNews.com) The secretary of Iraqi Shia militia Kataib Hizbollah (Hizbollah Brigades) was assassinated by unknown gunmen, Sputnik agency reported late Wednesday.
Bassem al-Saif, a former chairman of the security committee of Basra province, died of wounds at a hospital in central Basra after attackers boarding a pickup truck shot at his vehicle, seriously wounding him and another companion.
Nobody claimed responsibility for the assassination yet. Iraqi militias had a history of infighting after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. But violence surged further with the emergence of Islamic State Sunni extremist militants who proclaimed an “Islamic Caliphate” in Iraq and Syria.
Kataib Hizbollah is one participant in the battles against Islamic State militants carried out by al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Units), the alliance of Shia militias fighting IS extremists on the Iraqi government’s side. It remains ambiguous how independent Hizbollah Brigades’ are from PMUs command.
PMUs won government recognition as a national armed force in November 2016.
Its formation in 2010 was ideologically inspired by Lebanese influential militia Hezbollah, but it remains independent from the Lebanese force on the organizational level.
Like the PMUs and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Iraq’s Hizbollah Brigades is said to enjoy generous support from Iran in terms of finances and training.
The United States brands Kataib Hizbollah as a terrorist group.