In my previous post on the life of Karar Abd al-Amir al-Shahmani, I mentioned a formation by the name of 'The Haydari Force' that existed in the period of 2012-2013. Within this formation developed Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq's Syria contingent called Liwa Kafeel Zainab. For further reference on the matter of the Haydari Force, I have translated an account of some battles from 2013. The account is attributed to al-Hajj Jawad al-Talaibawi (a key Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq commander involved in the Syria mobilization) and explicitly mentions the Haydari Force of which Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq's contingent was a part.
Any parenthetical insertions in square brackets and endnotes are my own.
Story of heroes in one of the battles in al-Sham in the words of the commander al-Hajj Jawad al-Talaibawi.
The Nawasib[i] attacked an area called al-Farusia and it was under the protection of a force of members of the Iraqi Islamic Resistance and the Nawasib were able to kill members of this heroic force after heroic battles waged by the sons of this force holding the land. In the end the enemy was able to occupy the place. Then the leadership of the Haydari Force decided that the place should be cleansed quickly of the Nawasib because it represents the strategic line of support for the Nawasib in ammunition and numbers, and the decision was that the place should be cleansed by Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq because they are the strike force for the Haydari Force.[ii]
And indeed the order came from the commander of Liwa Kafeel Zainab- the mujahid brother Abu Karar- to form an attack force of members of Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq and led by al-Hajj Jawad al-Talaibawi. And the mujahideen personnel were distributed in six contingents- each contingent of ten members- and each contingent led by a courageous person. And indeed there was the attack on the points occupied by the Nawasib and the points were called as follows: the first point Taff[iii] 1, and the rest Taff 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. And al-Hajj Jawad and his contingent were able as quickly as lightning to attack Taff 1 and clash with the enemy and cleanse point Taff 1 of the Nawasib and after that all the six contingents were able to cleanse the points.
But some time later it became clear that the Nawasib were preparing to ambush the attacking force and indeed the Nawasib with more than 400 people attacked the liberated points whose personnel numbered 60 mujahideen. And a fierce battle occurred, by God, by God, by God. The enemy was less than 5 meters from us and addressing us in the clashes. In any case what I want to highlight are heroes who received bullets in their chests while they were shouting Labbayk ya Zainab.[iv] And this voice would not be silent except after the bullets penetrated the hearts.
The point that was called Taff 8 and led by the mujahid martyr the hero Muhammad al-Ka'abi[v] and twelve of the mujahideen: after the enemy besieged them, Muhammad al-Ka'abi called the operations commander al-Hajj Jawad al-Talaibawi and informed him that he was besieged by the Nawasib and that the Nawasib were demanding him to surrender, so he said: What do you say, oh Hajj Jawad? What should I do? So al-Hajj Jawad said to him: Oh brother, oh Muhammad, I am also besieged and I am now fighting the enemy from room to room. And I will not surrender until I am killed. Oh Muhammad, I cannot support you because of the situation I am in.
So he fought them and he did not despair. And indeed the fight continued for more than 3 hours and after that al-Hajj Jawad and his contingent were able to break the siege from themselves but he could not help the others because of the multiplicity of places in which the enemy was present and this prevented me from supporting you.[vi]
So Muhammad al-Ka'abi cried out through the communication device oh Hajj Jawad, the enemy are at the back of the house and they are burning the roof of the house upon us because the roof of the house is made of wood. So what am I to do? They want surrender. So Hajj Jawad said to him: Oh my brother, oh Muhammad, you are on top of the situation, and you are the leader of a contingent. I cannot support you. You assess and act, and do not surrender. And remember we are the followers of Imam Hussein. So Muhammad cried out with that call I will not forget till I die: Haihat minna al-dhilla! Haihat minna al-dhilla![vii] By this resounding voice the decision of Muhammad al-Ka'abi the leader of the contingent was [clear] to al-Hajj Jawad.
And when the Nawasib struck the house with a smoke bomb and set on fire the roof of the house in which the contingent was in, here came the decision of Muhammad al-Ka'abi to the contingent: Oh brothers, if we remain in the house, we will die through burning, so let us die with honour as we fight the Nawasib. Muhammad al-Ka'abi ordered one of the brothers to hide long with two of the wounded in another room of the house that is in the kitchen because it was fortified. As for Muhammad al-Ka'abi, he shouted to the members of his contingent: I will go out to them, but whoso goes out with me, he will obtain martyrdom: [that is], whoso of you goes out.
So the ten members of the contingent shouted: Labbayk ya Zainab! We will go out. And indeed Muhammad al-Ka'abi came out first and opened fire on the Nawasib and the Nawasib were at the door of the house, and the members of the contingent joined their leader Muhammad al-Ka'abi and the cry was Labbayk ya Zainab.
And the ten were martyred as they called Labbayk ya Zainab. And al-Hajj Jawad could not prepare a force on the following day to drag out the bodies of the martyrs, and the surprise was when he found three members of the contingent alive and they recounted their experiences of the confrontations with the Nawasib. And these people are of course living witnesses. They said: Oh Hajj, when we were hidden because of our severe wounds and inability to fight because of our wounds, we were witness to the stance of our brothers. And Muhammad al-Ka'abi came out to fight the Nawasib and the call of Muhammad and his companions as they fought the Nawasib was Labbayk ya Zainab: then the clash was going on along with the drone of the bullets and sounds of the hand grenades and the shout of the Nawasib. But the voice of Labbayk ya Zainab along with the firing of bullets from Muhammad al-Kaabi and his companions continued. But when the voice of Labbayk ya Zainab fell silent, we knew that our brothers had been killed.
So Labbayk ya Zainab, Labbayk ya Zainab, Labbayk ya Zainab. And I pledge, oh my brothers, that I will not forget how you called for me to help, until I join you.
Your brother al-Hajj Jawad al-Talaibawi.
[i] Those hostile to the Prophet's household. Here, a derogatory reference to the Syrian rebels.
[ii] Emphasis my own. As source criticism goes, one should bear in mind that the extent to which Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq constituted the strike force of the Haydari Force could be exaggerated here. More generally, battle accounts like these are liable to faulty recollection, embellishment and hagiography of key figures. Nonetheless, the point I wish to highlight here is that as this account clearly implies, the Haydari Force did not consist solely of Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq.
[iii] Another name for Karbala'
[iv] "At your service, of Zainab": a slogan associated with Shi'i fighters in Syria.
[v] A Liwa Kafeel Zainab/Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq member killed in 2013.
[vi] A brief shift of narration to the first person.
[vii] "Never to humiliation": attributed to Imam Hussein.