Liwa Dhu al-Fiqar (The Dhu al-Fiqar Brigade) is one of the main Iraqi-led groups formed and based in Syria. Previously I have covered the other factions such as Liwa Assad Allah al-Ghalib, Liwa al-Imam al-Hussein and the Rapid Intervention Regiment.
To explore Liwa Dhu al-Fiqar and its history further, I interviewed Salam al-Safir, who is the spokesman for Liwa Dhu al-Fiqar and the Syria front official for the Abu al-Fadl al-Abbas Forces (led by Sheikh Aws al-Khafaji). This interview was conducted on 9 April 2019. Any parenthetical insertions in square brackets are my own.
Salam al-Safir [right] with Hayder al-Juburi [left], who is also known as Abu Shahad al-Juburi and is the secretary general of Liwa Dhu al-Fiqar.
Q: When was Liwa Dhu al-Fiqar formed and what is its origin exactly? Was it part of Liwa Abu al-Fadl al-Abbas originally?
A: Liwa Dhu al-Fiqar is the second brigade in Syria after Liwa Abu al-Fadl al-Abbas. The secretary general of Liwa Dhu al-Fiqar is Abu Shahad al-Juburi. No, [it is] not affiliated with Liwa Abu al-Fadl al-Abbas.
Q: But Abu Shahad was in Liwa Abu al-Fadl al-Abbas before the formation of Liwa Dhu al-Fiqar and was living in Syria before the events, right?
A: Correct. He was in Liwa Abu al-Fadl al-Abbas. Yes, before the events he was living in Syria.
Q: Abu Shahad al-Juburi has been the leader of Liwa Dhu al-Fiqar since the beginning?
A: He is the secretary general from the beginning.
Q: In which battles has the brigade participated and how many martyrs has it offered approximately?
A: The battles of Duwar al-Hujaira, Sabinah, al-Nabak, Mazari' Rima, Mleha, Ghouta, Deraa and Idlib. 500 martyrs and 300 wounded.
Q: Has the Islamic Resistance- Hezbollah helped you in matters of formation, training, arming and salaries?
A: The Syrian government helped us in salaries and arming.
Q: As for training you don't need that from anyone
A: Most of Liwa Dhu al-Fiqar was in Jaysh al-Mahdi [Muqtada al-Sadr's fighting force during the U.S. occupation of Iraq].
Q: Yes, but you have Syrian fighters in your ranks as well, right?
Q: Has the brigade been affiliated with Dir' al-Watan (al-Bustan Association and Air Intelligence) from the beginning?
A: Correct, al-Bustan Association.
Q: Yes, but Dir' al-Watan is a joint project between the al-Bustan Association and the Air Intelligence.
Q: Currently are there any military assignments for the brigade on the fronts?
A: Jourain- Idlib.
Q: Does the brigade have a wing in Iraq or is it only present in Syria?
A: Only Syria.
Q: But are you close to the Abu al-Fadl al-Abbas Forces led by the mujahid Sheikh Aws al-Khafaji, right?
A: Yes, correct.
Q: Can we say that the marja'iya [religious authority] for most of the Iraqi members in Liwa Dhu al-Fiqar is Sadrist?
Q: How do you assess the situation in Syria currently? Has the Syrian government been victorious? And do you expect that the Americans will withdraw soon?
A: Syria has been victorious, and the situation is currently stable. And God willing, America will withdraw.