In a BBC Arabic TV (U.K.) report, which was aired on August 19, 2021, leaders of pro-Iran militias talk about their activity on both sides of the Syria-Iraq border. Ahmad Al-Maksusi, Secretary-General of the Sayiid Al-Shuhada Brigades militia, said that the Iraqi militias were the ones who targeted American forces in Al-Tanf base in Syria. He said that the militias will operate wherever necessary, and hinted that they might retaliate against Jordan for allowing uses forces to send drones that killed PMU operatives from its territory.
Abu Turab, a commander in the Sayyid Al-Shuhada Brigades, said that Islam’s greatest enemy is Israel and that it is a Muslim’s duty to draw closer to his enemy, if the enemy draws closer to him. Ja’afar Al-Husseini, the military spokesman for the Iraqi Hezbollah Brigades, said that the “resistance factions” have goals that reach beyond Iraq, and they have been present in Syria since 2013. He also explained the Popular Mobilizations Units’ (PMU) role on both sides of the Iraq-Syria border.
Reporter: “Their enterprise expands beyond the [Iraqi] borders. They are ideologically tied to Iran, and they strive to drive the American forces out of Iraq and the region, as pointed out by Ahmad Al-Maksusi, Deputy Sec.-Gen. of the Sayyid Al-Shuhada Brigades. Is this goal feasible?”
Ahmad Al-Maksusi, Secretary-General of the Sayiid Al-Shuhada Brigades: “Of course it is. Proof of this is that before 2011, it was impossible to think that the American forces would leave Iraq. The entire world said that the American forces would not leave Iraq. But thanks to the national resistance factions, they succumbed to the security circumstances and left Iraq.”
Reporter: “As in the case of the American withdrawal from Afghanistan, Al-Maksusi says that the American final withdrawal from Iraq is near. The Sayyid Al-Shuhada [militia] uses some of the houses in the town of Qa’im as bases for its operations. Nearby, there are bases of the Iraqi Hezbollah Brigades as well. Both factions are part of the Iran-backed ‘Iraqi resistance factions.’
“It seems like [it is] natural for the members of these factions to talk in Farsi over the two-way radio. These are the remnants of one of the bases that was bombed by the American air force, inside Iraq, near the Syrian border, a few weeks ago. This base hosted fighters from the Sayyid Al-Shuhada and the Iraqi Hezbollah Brigades.”
Reporter: “Why was this base targeted? “
Abu Turab, commander in the Sayyid Al-Shuhada Brigades: “This place is located between three American Bases: Al-Tanf, Ayn Al Asad, and Al-Omar oil field.”
Reporter: “Is this your reason for being here?”
Abu Turab: “Yes, it is.”
Reporter: “You, as factions that are backed by Iran and coordinate with Iran, are always accused of being here only to ensure your supply lines, from Tehran to Beirut.”
Abu Turab: “The PMU is an ideological force. However, Islam’s number-one enemy is Israel. Islam’s number-one enemy is Israel, right? As a Muslim, whenever my enemy draws close to me, I will draw even closer to him.”
Al-Maksusi: “The Iraqi resistance factions are those who targeted the American forces in Al-Tanf base and everywhere, whether in Iraq or in Syria. And we will continue targeting the American forces.”
Reporter: “What about Jordan?”
Al-Maksusi: “In the American strike that killed our members in Al-Qa’im, the drones came from Jordan. We know their route. The route the drones that came from Jordan…”
Reporter: “This is certain? They did not come from Ayn Al Asad?”
Al-Maksusi: “They came from Jordan, not from Ayn Al-Asad. Therefore, if you do not defend your borders from the enemy, you will definitely have to bear the consequences.”[…]
Reporter: “This is the border-crossing point that was used by factions of the PMU to cross their bases in Syria, near the city of Al-Bukamal. Today, the procedures regarding this border point have changed extensively.
“The Syrian side is controlled by the border patrol, whereas on the Iraqi side there is a border-crossing point under the responsibility of the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior, which enforces tight restrictions on this border-crossing, which used to be known as an illegal border-crossing, and is not so far away from the official Al-Qai’m border-crossing.
“This border-crossing was targeted by the American air force last February. However, the BBC team has learned that it is still used, in a limited manner, under the supervision of the Iraqi Hezbollah Brigades, and in coordination with the Syrian Army, within a joint command center that includes the Iranians as well.”
Ja’afar Al-Husseini, military spokesman of the Iraqi Hezbollah Brigades: “If we are talking about the Iraqi presence inside Syria, we must talk about the resistance factions. The resistance factions have goals that reach beyond Iraq, and they have been present in Syria since 2013.”
Reporter: “In this area in particular, the area of the border-crossing – is this border-crossing still active?”
Al-Husseini: “It was active so long as there were operations from both sides of the border. Today, the official border-crossing is controlled by the Iraqi government, and the PMU is present on the border line. On the other side, the Syrian Army is present, as well as other supporting forces that are far from the border itself. Those who are present on the border itself are the PMU, on the Iraqi side, and the Syrian Army on the Syrian side.”