Iran-backed Iraqi militia declares support for Houthis

The leader of an Iran-backed militia in Iraq has declared support for Houthi rebels in Yemen, strengthening Tehran’s influence in the region.

The declaration came as an offensive on the rebel-held port city of Hodeidah has been put on hold by the Saudi-led Arab Coalition, which includes the UAE, to give the United Nations a chance to broker a peaceful resolution.

Abu Walaa Al Walai, leader of the Katab Sayyed Al Shuhada, said his forces were ready to fight beside the Houthis and were awaiting orders from the leader of the Iran-backed rebels, Abdul Malik Al Houthi.

The brigades are a part of the Iraqi paramilitary forces known as the Popular Mobilisation Units that include the Badr Organisation and Katab Hezbollah as well as several others that were largely armed, funded and trained by Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guard Corps to fight against ISIS in Iraq.

“I am a soldier standing at the signal of Abdul Malik Al Houthi. I say to you, sir, that I am at your disposal,” Mr Al Walai said in a video posted on Twitter.

The powerful Iranian proxy group was formed in 2013 to fight in Syria. Its offer to fight alongside the Houthis came days after the Arab Coalition supporting Yemen’s legitimate government reported that eight members of Lebanon’s Hezbollah, another Iran-backed force, were killed in the country’s north.

Tehran says it supports the Houthis politically but denies arming the rebels, despite investigations by the United States and United Nations showing that weapons and missiles used by the rebels originated in Iran.

Source » thenational

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