Iraqi Shia militias who were defending Assad are now returning home

ISW reports: As the Iraqi government and Shi’a militia groups attempt to mobilize and recruit fighters reports suggest that Iraqi Shi’a militia fighters, previously supporting the Syrian regime have begun to return to Iraq. The majority of these redeployments are likely occurring in Damascus, where Iraqi Shi’a militias have been heavily involved in fighting in Damascus’ southern suburbs near the Sayida Zeinab Shrine, and Aleppo province, where they have supported the regime’s offensive to besiege the rebel-held neighborhoods of eastern Aleppo city. A source close to Lebanese Hezbollah said the group has called for a general mobilization, announcing that 1,000 fighters are to be sent to Syria from Lebanon to defend the Sayida Zeinab Shrine in Damascus and replace Shi’a Iraqi militia troops, particularly from the Abu Fadl al-Abbas brigade who are returning to Iraq. This movement of troops could create a deficit in the regime’s forces, exacerbating its manpower challenge. Early indications of this include rebel gains in Mleiha, in the Damascus suburbs, and Rankous in the Qalamoun region.

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