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LLL - GFATF - Liwa Zainebiyoun

Liwa Zainebiyoun


Established In: 2014;

Established By: Unknown;

Also Known As: Zeynabiyn Brigade, Followers of Zainab Brigade;

Country Of Origin: Iran;

Leaders: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (Supreme Leader of Iran);

Key Members: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (Supreme Leader of Iran);

Operational Area: Syria;

Number Of Members: Several hundred – 1,000;

Involved In: Bomb Attacks, Armed Attacks;

Connected With:

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General Info:

Liwa Zainebiyoun (Followers of Zainab Brigade) is a pro-government brigade fighting in Syria composed of Shia Pakistanis. It draws recruits from Shia Pakistanis living in Iran and native Shia of Parachinar and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. It was formed and trained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and operates under their command.

Initially tasked with defending the Sayyidah Zaynab Mosque, it has since entered frontlines across Syria. Its dead are buried primarily in Iran.

Approximately 158 of their fighters have died in Syria as of March 2019, excluding those killed in Israeli airstrikes. According to recent estimations, the total number of Pakistani fighters on the brigade hardly exceeds 800.

Zaynabiyoun Brigade is being designated for providing material support to the IRGC-QF. Zaynabiyoun Brigade, is designated under Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, a counter-terrorism authority, which targets terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism. OFAC is Zaynabiyoun Brigade for assisting, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, the IRGC-QF.

Additionally, the IRGC-QF and the Zaynabiyoun Brigade are also being designated under E.O. 13553, an authority that targets serious human rights abuses by the Government of Iran. The brutal Iranian regime exploits refugee communities in Iran, deprives them of access to basic services such as education, and uses them as human shields for the Syrian conflict,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

“Treasury’s targeting of Iran-backed militias and other foreign proxies is part of our ongoing pressure campaign to shut down the illicit networks the regime uses to export terrorism and unrest across the globe.”

Pakistanis have been fighting in Syria since 2013. They originally fought in the Afghan Liwa Fatemiyoun, and only became numerous enough to warrant a distinct brigade in early 2015. Like other Shia foreign brigades in Syria, it is funded, trained, and overseen by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Its official purpose is to defend the Sayyidah Zaynab Mosque (the shrine of Zaynab bint Ali, sister of Imam Hussain and granddaughter of Mohammed) and other Shia holy sites in Syria. It operates primarily in Damascus defending these holy sites. However, since 2015, it has also engaged in offensive action around Daraa and Aleppo, along with other foreign Shia fighters.

According to an advertisement by the group, fighters receive salaries of 120,000 Rs ($1200) per month. They are trained for 45 days initially and 6 months in Syria. Most fighters are Pakistani nationals from Iran. Many also come from the Shia-majority Pashtun city Parachinar.

On 9 April 2015, 7 fighters were killed defending the Imam Hasan Mosque and were buried in Qom, Iran. In March 2016, 6 fighters were killed defending the Imam Reza shrine, also buried in Qom. On 23 April 5 more fighters were killed. An estimated 69 fighters were killed between November 2014 and March 2016.

In early 2018 the group was involved in the Battle of Khasham against US special forces and the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.