Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba'- often referred to as Harakat al-Nujaba'- is an Iraqi group that first came to prominence for its involvement in Syria. The group has also recruited Syrian fighters, as I have documented previously.
On 5 October 2019, I interviewed a Syrian member of Harakat al-Nujaba' originally from the northeastern province of Hasakah. His name is Ammar al-Mahig (Arabic: عمار المحيگ) and his jihadi name is Dhu al-Fiqar.
The interview is slightly edited and condensed for clarity. Any parenthetical insertions in square brackets are my own.
Q: When were you born and in what year did you bear arms for the first time?
A: I was born in 1998. I bore arms for the first time in 2012. And I received training at the hands of officers in the Fourth Division at the hands of the Major Dhu al-Fiqar Suqur and the Lieutenant Colonel Ali Hayder Suqur. And the training courses developed until they reached the hands of the experts of Hezbollah.
Brother, I oversaw training of the National Defence Forces in Hasakah province in the second month of 2013 and at the time their number was 72 fighters. They received their training courses at the hands of the martyr Fadi Hantoush. After that my group and I liberated the town of al-Dhabana south of al-Qamishli.
I was an official of the National Defence [in Hasakah province] and I took this elevation through al-Hajj Jawad and the officers whose names I have mentioned and sayyid Abu Ali al-Darraji. Previously I was an official of the [National] Defence and after that I became an official in the Resistance according to the expertise I possess.
Q: So in 2013, you were with the National Defence and in 2014 you officially joined al-Nujaba'.
A: Brother when the province [Hasakah] was threatened and the army was collapsing I contacted these officers through an ustadh of mine and after that they proposed the idea to the [4th] Division command and it was welcomed. I received training and after that we began to bring together the brothers and that was for whosoever should be National Defence. I suggested to the sayyid that we should call it Ahl al-Wafa' al-Munthadirin and I was at that time a commander for this factions.
Q: When did you join al-Nujaba' and for what reasons did you join?
A: I joined the Islamic Resistance Harakat al-Nujaba' in the beginning of its formation in Syria and Iraq in 2014.
I joined the Islamic Resistance for jihad in the cause of and supporting Muhammad and the Family of Muhammad, and the fact that the sons of the Umayyads had come out and were destroying my land and were threatening the holy sites pushed me to the Resistance. For these reasons only.
Q: Did you receive training courses from the Resistance?
A: Yes I received training courses in the camps of the Resistance present in Aleppo in the camp of Ammar bin Yasir (may God be pleased with him).
Q: And the training courses were at the hands of the members of the movement [Harakat al-Nujaba'] or for example officers from the Revolutionary Guard [IRGC] as well?
A: Officers in the Revolutionary Guard and officials in the movement, at the head of whom is al-Hajj Mortadha al-Mousawi.
Q: The movement has a battalion or regiment particular to the Syrians?
A: The movement includes in its formations Syrians and Iraqis with each other. There is no one-sided Syrian or Iraqi faction.
Q: Currently are there any assignments for the movement inside the Syrian lands?
A: The Resistance has assignments in the Idlib battle and they have contact lines in Deir az-Zor and we have forces present in the capital and in Deraa. And the foundational centre for the Resistance is Aleppo.
Q: Most of the Syrian members are from which areas?
A: Most of the mujahideen of the Islamic Resistance of the Syrians are from Aleppo, Idlib- the people of al-Fou'a and Kafariya- and the Shi'a of al-Sham [Damascus] and Latakia. And new recruits have joined them from the peoples of Deir az-Zor. And I am the only one from Hasakah province.
Q: How do you receive salaries?
A: We receive them from the leadership of the Resistance or its centres in which we are present.
Q: Do you not receive through the Syrian banks?
A: No brother: some of us receive through a cheque from the Syrian banks: among them I.
Q: How do you assess the general situation in Syria today?
A: The field situation is proceeding according to the general command Ali Akbar Velayati in a good sense and under control, and all the penetrations have not impacted the outlined plan. And the situation is proceeding for the interest of the mujahideen of the Resistance and the Syrian Arab Army.
Q: But isn't the economic situation difficult?
A: I told you about the field situation. Regarding the economic situation, there is difficulty but the suggestions of the government are always implemented but the biggest loser is the people, because it does not obtain any of its rights. Senior members of the government play sport with the people generally. The economic situation is difficult because of the sanctions, but the security situation and military situation are very good.
Q; Do you expect that the Americans will withdraw from Syria soon?
A: Regarding the American occupier, its presence is not legitimate in Syria and if it does not leave through the UN, we have the right and the Iraqi brothers will not be more noble than we are in resisting it, and this thing has happened and we have targeted its forces in more than one place and I oversaw three operations of planting IEDs on their mobile convoys.
[Follow-up questions asked on 11 October 2019 CE]:
Q: May I ask what is your assessment of the Turkish operations against the SDF and the withdrawal of the Americans from parts of the borders with Turkey? Is there an opportunity for the Resistance and the Syrian state?
A: The Syrian state and the Resistance are ready to defend the Syrians and Syrian land. As for the Americans, our leadership has previously said that there is no bet on the Americans. But this war they have got themselves involved in, they will bear its consequences because the one who betrays his country and the son of his country for the sake of the foreigner will bear responsibility for everything. As for the Turks, they took the green light from the Americans, and we as Resistance reject this occupation and aggression that has targeted our homeland.
Q: Do you expect that the Kurds will reach an agreement with the Syrian state?
A: Currently this thing is difficult because the Kurds are prepared to hand over the area to the Turkish invader and its mercenary gang rather than the intervention of the Syrian state. And I know this thing because I am a son of the region.