TRAC Focus On: Shia Foreign Fighters in Syria

Numbers of Shi’ite FightersAs with Sunni fighters, the estimates of the numbers of Shi’ite fighters in Syria varies. According to the Meir Intelligence and Terrorism Information Centre, there are approximately 7,000 to 8,000 fighters with the number increasing. The centre identified Lebanon and Iraq as primary sources of Shi’ite fighters entering Syria; other Shi’ite fighters come from Bahrain, Yemen (Houthi rebels), Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Ivory Coast.   According to Aaron Y. Zelin (Associate at the Washington Institute) the total is closer to 10,000. Shi’ite fighters on return from Syria indicated a total in excess of 10,000. The London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, estimated a total of 40,000 Shi’ite fighters as recently as February 2014. A recent article by Al-Monitor sets the number between 10,000 and 15,000, with additional Hezbollah fighters estimated to be between 3,000 and 5,000; Iraqi fighters between…

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About the Contributor

jasmine opperman

Jasmine’s areas of expertise include methodological risk analysis and the management of intelligence processes (operations, counter-intelligence, covert activities and analysis). Jasmine is...