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Kata'ib al-Hamza (Iraq)

Last modified: 2020-08-01 by ian macdonald
Keywords: iraq | hamza |
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[Iraq Armor Hamza Forces] image located by William Garrison, 29 September 2014

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The Organization

Kata'ib al-Hamza ("The Hamza Battalions"). c. August 2014
A Sunni-Muslim militia operating near the city of Haditha in the Anbar province of Iraq. This militia is opposed to the "Islamic State" (IS/ISIS/ISIL). The Sunni themselves are divided as to how "harsh" Sunni-Islam should be interpreted and enforced. The Sunni-IS is well known for a brand of puritanical Wahhabi-Islam (including the beheading Shia/Shiite captives and Western journalists), but some "moderate" Sunni are not enthralled with the callousness of the Sunni-IS: which is opposed to Syria Pres. Assad (who is a Shia-Alawite Muslim, and who is supported by the Shia-government of Iran).
Although the pro-Sunni Kata'ib al-Hamza is opposed to the pro-Sunni IS, this doesn't necessarily mean that the Kata'ib al-Hamza is cooperating with the current Shia-dominated government of Iraq.

Info from "Gloria Center" MERIA Journal Vol. 18, No. 3 (Fall 2014) ‏
The group Kata’ib al-Hamza (“The Hamza Battalions”) was first rumored to be in the works in Anbar in mid-August by police colonel Ahmed Shufir. Speaking to Agence France-Presse, he suggested that the group was based in the western Anbar town of Haditha, which still remains in government control,[29] and that they were fighting to keep out militants to the west of the town. The group was then formally announced at the end of the month by Muhammad al-Dulaimi, acting as spokesman for Kata’ib al-Hamza. He explained to the local Iraqi media outlet al-Mada Press that “a number of Anbar tribes have formed today Kata’ib al-Hamza to make war on the IS organization and cleanse out the Western areas from al-Qa’im district on the border up to the town of Fallujah.” He also clarified that the force was under the “control of the state and the law, with its obligation to support the forces of the army and the police in military operations and assaulting the dens of terrorism.”[30]
Like Harakat Ahrar al-Mosul, Kata’ib al-Hamza ostensibly professes an anti-sectarian line and does not necessarily identify with government policies. In an interview, a media representative affirmed: “We are a tribal force against the sectarian program the government practices and against what the takfiri IS practice…We are not affiliated with anyone. We are not affiliated with the government or Osama [Nujaifi] but we stand with them against IS.”[31] At the same time, the representative was realistic about numbers and scale of operations: “Now the number of fighters is 180 and we have begun simple operations against IS.” The representative dismissed the notion that Kata’ib al-Hamza was working with JRTN against IS: “They are the ones who deluded people with IS and began [working] with IS but afterwards disagreements arose between them and no one except IS has remained in the field.”[32]
From the evidence gleaned so far, Kata’ib al-Hamza’s self-reporting on its activities corroborates the original account to Agence France-Presse of an outfit based in Haditha[33] (and fitting in with the small number of fighters claimed in the interview with this author), rather than one stretching across Anbar. Elsewhere in the west of Anbar–specifically the localities of al-Qa’im,[34] Anah,[35] Rawa,[36] Rutba,[37] the only identifiable armed group is IS. In Fallujah city, IS has gradually subsumed other factions–including Jaysh al-Mujahideen and JRTN, through a mixture of co-optation and coercion.[38] Further east of Fallujah, in the locality of al-Karma, IS forced Jaysh al-Mujahideen to withdraw from the urban area following an attack on the latter’s positions and tribal mediation.[39] Where areas are still heavily contested with government-aligned forces (e,g. Ramadi), much of the fighting is with IS, though other groups seem to be involved as well, including the General Military Council for Iraq’s Revolutionaries[40] and the Islamic Army of Iraq.
William Garrison, 29 September 2014

This group named after Hamza Ali Al-Khateeb. Because I've seen many current fighting military formations and many of them have the name "Khateeb" and "Hamza" in it, in honour of this boy:
- Hamzah Al-Khateeb Battalion
- Brigade of the Martyr Hamza al-Khatib
- Hamza Brigade
- Hamza Bin Abdul Muttalib Brigade
- Hamza al-Ansar Brigade
Esteban Rivera, 30 September 2014

The Flag

Their green-white flag shows two weapons crossed and superimposed on a map of Iraq. On the flag, one weapon is obviously an AK-47, while the other weapon appears to be either a machine-gun or a medium-caliber anti-tank rifle (which is shown on the ground in front of their flag).
William Garrison, 29 September 2014

Also, their logo can be seen here.
Their flag is also featured here.
This is the flag most likely submitted (cropped) by William Garrison
Esteban Rivera, 30 September 2014