Iraq: recruitment (including forced recruitment) of young men by Shia militias in Shia regions; consequences of refusal to be recruited [a-10168]

9 June 2017

This response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to ACCORD as well as information provided by experts within time constraints and in accordance with ACCORD’s methodological standards and the Common EU Guidelines for processing Country of Origin Information (COI).

This response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status, asylum or other form of international protection.

Please read in full all documents referred to.

Non-English language information is summarised in English. Original language quotations are provided for reference.


Only little information could be found on forced recruitment by militias. The following information provides an overview of militias active in Iraq and general information on recruitment measures of militias.

Overview of Shia militias in Iraq

The Jamestown Foundation, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that provides information on terrorism, published an overview of the Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi, also called Popular Mobilistation Forces (PMF) [also known as Popular Mobilisation Units, PMU] in April 2016. The PMF is described as an umbrella group for predominantly Iraqi Shia militias that was created on order of Iraq's former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in 2014 after the group Islamic State (IS) had seized nearly one-third of Iraq:

“The al-Hashd al-Shaabi, or Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), an umbrella group for majority Iraqi Shia militias, was established in June 2014 in response to the IS seizure of nearly one-third of Iraq. […] Compared to the less effective ISF [Iraqi Security Forces], the PMF have been both active and eager in the fight against IS, due in part to their ideal of Shia jihad in a conflict between two rival religious doctrines. […] The PMF was created on the order of Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq's then-Prime Minister, in 2014 with the unanimous backing of the Council of Ministers. Recruitment was aided substantially by a historic fatwa from Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the highest marja (‘Source of Emulation’) of the Shias, which called on ‘all able-bodied Iraqis’ to defend their country (Terrorism Monitor, April 17, 2015). The militias can be divided into three major unofficial blocs, based on similar objectives rather than formal alliances, with a fourth constituting affiliated non-Shia militias that include Sunnis, Yazidis, Christians, and other minorities (Niqash, June 20, 2015; al-Bayan, July 7, 2015).

The first and most influential bloc is the pro-Iranian militias, established by the Iranian regime. Of these, the Badr Organization, headed by Hadi al-Amiri, is the largest and best equipped, manned by approximately 20,000 fighters (al-Jazeera, June 10, 2014). Others include Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH), Kataib Hezbollah (KH), Saraya al-Khorasani, and Harakat al-Nujaba, that follow the Iranian supreme leader's doctrine, wilayat al-faqih, and have political aspirations. […]

The second bloc are the pro-Sistani militias, the Hashd al-Sistani, made up of the Liwa Ali al-Akbar, Furqat Imam Ali al-Qitaliyah, and Furqat al-Abbas al-Qitaliyah (Shabakat Imam Ali, May 18, 2015; Imam Hussain, January 3, 2015; Imam Hussain, November 1, 2014; al-Kafeel, March 1). They are close to Prime Minister Abadi and have gradually increased to approximately 20,000 fighters, though they have the potential to reach 50,000 (al-Jazeera, June 10, 2014). Their recruits are largely volunteers who signed up in response to Sistani's fatwa and most have no political ambitions. They are backed by pro-Sistani institutions or Shrine Foundations such as Ataba Al-Abbasya, Ataba al-Alawyyia al-Muqadasa, and Ataba Al-Hussaniya al-Muqadasa (al-Sumaria, September 26, 2015; Wakalat al-Nnabaa, February 5). They are fewer in number than their pro-Iranian counterparts, but have the support of the Iraqi defense ministry and increasingly fall under the ISF's command (al-Jazeera, February 26). […]

The third bloc is made up of loyalists of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and militias supporting the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), led by Ammar al-Hakim. These are two powerful Shia political factions with complex links to Iran. Despite their rivalries, they are categorized together due to their loose adherence to the federal government in Baghdad. Such pro-Hakim militias include Saraya Ansar al-Aqeeda, Liwa al-Muntathar and Saraya Ashura, while the main pro-al-Sadr militia is Saraya al-Salam (Saraiaalaqeda, March 1; al-Hurrya, March 14, 2015). The leaders of both factions have said their forces will follow the ISF's instructions in the battle against IS (al-Hayat, March 30, 2015).” (Jamestown Foundation, 29 April 2016)

Oxford Analytica, a think tank specialised in the analysis of geopolitics and international markets, writes in a Daily Brief of October 2016 about the declining role of the PMF/PMU in the fight against the Islamic State:

“Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi today announced the launch of the long-awaited offensive against Islamic State (IS) in Mosul. He stated that the Iraqi army and police ‘are the ones that will enter Mosul, not others’, emphasising the exclusion of the Shia Popular Mobilisation Units (PMUs), which have played a controversial role in the recapture of other majority-Sunni cities. The PMUs have instead been deployed to the west, to cut off IS's line of retreat to its Raqqa stronghold in Syria. […]

The PMUs were vital to the defence of Baghdad against IS in June 2014. They were the dominant fighting force until May 2015, when the US-supported ISF took over the failing battle of Tikrit, expelling IS. Subsequently, the army has led successful offensives against militants in Ramadi, Bayji, Hit, Fallujah, Qayyarah and Sharqat. As the frontline has moved north, increasing numbers of Sunni fighters have been recruited, forming separate tribal units working under army command. Meanwhile the Shia PMUs have played a declining role: their forces are overstretched and less welcome in Sunni areas in the north. […]

The expulsion of IS from Mosul and surrounding areas may be completed by early 2017, removing the original rationale for the existence of PMUs. In that case, Sistani could issue a new fatwa, rescinding the religious obligation for Shia to volunteer against IS. This would remove the religious cover and legitimation enjoyed since June 2014 by pre-existing Shia militant groups such as Asaib Ahl al-Haq and Kataib Hezbollah. […]

The PMUs will look for new military reasons to justify ongoing mobilisation, regardless of calls by the Shia political and religious mainstream. Potential new roles include: Protection of Baghdad and Shia centres. If IS mounts increasing numbers of mass-casualty attacks against the Shia, the PMUs will be quick to claim an overt armed role in the protection of Shia neighbourhoods, religious sites and processions. This could escalate: retaliation against Sunni areas might help IS to retain a foothold in some districts. Defence of the Kurdish frontier. Shia PMUs are already signalling that they should be used by the Iraqi state as a frontier force capable of pushing back the Kurdish presence along disputed boundaries in northern Iraq. Factions in the Baghdad government may welcome a militant proxy to pressure the Kurds on territorial, resource-sharing and independence issues. Control of the southern provinces. The PMUs will have room to operate as local warlords in the oil-rich southern provinces as long as the bulk of ISF strength is focused on securing western and northern Iraq. By the time the army redeploys to its home bases in 2017-18, there may be a deeply embedded Shia militia problem in vital economic hubs such as Basra and Amara.” (Oxford Analytica, 17 October 2016)

Recruitment of Shia

On its Arabic language website, the Popular Mobilisation Front (al-Hashd al-Shaabi) refers to its military success in its fight against the group Islamic State (IS). The website can be accessed via the following link:

·      Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi: official website, undated


A search on the website of the Popular Mobilisation Front for the Arabic word for recruitment results almost exclusively in articles about the recruiting practices of the Islamic State. A search for the Arabic word for “voluntary engagement“ results in a variety of articles on volunteers serving in the PMF. Especially the most recent articles refer to volunteers in Ninawa province joining the liberation of Mosul.


The New Arab, a media corporation founded in London in 2014, in a February 2016 article reports about campaigns among Shia in Baghdad and southern Iraq to recruit fighters for the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria:

“Campaigns in Baghdad and southern Iraq to recruit fighters for the regime of Bashar al-Assad in neighbouring Syria are sparking concerns across the country. Observers say the recruitment drives, which were previously conducted in narrow circles by local militias, have now gone public at a curious time in the Syrian conflict. Offices have even been set up for the purpose, including one in an appliance department store in the Shusa district of Baghdad's Kadhimiya suburb. There, would-be volunteers are briefed on the situation in Syria and the importance of the fight there, as part of the so-called overlap on the Iraqi-Syrian fronts. Similar activities reportedly take place in Shia mosques especially in the slums of Baghdad, such as Sadr City. These recruitment drives are advertised as ‘Defensive Jihad‘, where volunteering is a duty, as opposed to offensive or ‘Conquest Jihad‘ in the ideology of the Shia Islamist recruiters. In truth, ‘jihad‘ in Syria is a subject of contention between senior Shia clerics in Najaf (Iraq), Tehran and Qom (Iran). While most clerics in Najaf believe fighting is a duty only in Iraq, and only against the Islamic State group, following a fatwa by leading Iraqi Shia cleric Ali al-Sistani, the clerics in Iran believe fighting in Syria is also a duty on every (Shia) Muslim. […]

The recruitment drives have also been conducted through social media. Iraqis are enticed to go to Syria to fight alongside Assad's forces in return for sums of up to $1,500 a month. In Iraq, where poverty and unemployment are rife, this sum can go a long way. Broad swathes of Iraqis have denounced the campaigns, with parents complaining they are unable to dissuade their sons because of the extremist sectarian discourse prevailing in the country. ‘Urgent and for a limited time only. Those wishing to fight in Syria against Takfiri groups [can receive a] salary of $1,500 a month. Fighting in Syria has been sanctioned by religious leaders and volunteers will join the Imam Ali Brigades,‘ reads one advertisement on Facebook. The advertisement included a picture of Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani. In other advertisements, an image of the Sayeda Zainab shrine in Syria was included with the phrase ‘She will not be taken slave twice‘. ‘The Brothers of the Islamic Resistance in Syria, for the defence of Sayeda Zainab, requires 600 mujahidin... Benefits include a salary of $1,500, for a deployment period of 45 days,‘ read another advertisement, signed by the Imam Ali Brigades. A similar advertisement was posted on the page of the Counter-Terrorist Service of Iraq, but it was not clear whether the fighters were wanted for another militia or the agency itself, which is controlled by former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. According to Iraqi government sources, the recruitment offices draw 300 to 400 fighters every month, mostly from the ranks of impoverished youths in the slums. The media office of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declined to comment to The New Arab about recruitment for Assad. However, a senior official in the Interior Ministry in Baghdad said the government was powerless to do anything about these campaigns, which he said were under the protection of the Supreme Leader of Iran. The official, who asked not to be named, said: ‘These offices recruit youths who often return as corpses two or three months later. Their parents' silence is bought off with cash and fatwas declaring their children martyrs in heaven,’ he added. The official said there were 11 offices across Iraq recruiting Iraqi fighters for Syria, and speculated that the growing drive could be the result of a greater need for additional fighters to bolster Assad's troops.” (The New Arab, 4 February 2016)

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP), a US-based global network of think tanks, reports in a February 2016 article that many Iraqi Shia join paramilitary groups under the umbrella of the Popular Mobilization Forces rather than enlisting with the Iraqi army:

“Many of Iraq’s Shia are taking up arms to fight the self-proclaimed Islamic State. However, rather than enlisting with the Iraqi military via the Ministry of Defense (MOD), they are opting to join paramilitary groups under the umbrella of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF or al-Hashd al-Shaabi in Arabic), which has become the single largest ground force combating Islamic State fighters in Iraq. Despite Human Rights Watch’s accusation that some groups under the umbrella, such as the Badr Brigades, League of the Righteous (Asaib ahl al-Haq), and Imam Ali Battalions are carrying out widespread and systematic human rights violations, the PMF has maintained its popularity and legitimacy among the Shia base. A recently published poll showed that 99 percent of Iraqi Shia support the PMF in its fight against the Islamic State. As a consequence, the number of recruits rushing to enlist with the PMF is substantial. According to various claims from well-informed sources in Baghdad, more than 75 percent of men ages 18 to 30 residing in the Shia provinces have signed up. Although most of these recruits are reservists who will not fight, the mere volume is indicative of the PMF’s support in that region. The sheer extent of such numbers would typically indicate some form of conscription. However, there is no such formal mandatory recruitment in place. The PMF is merely guided by Ayatollah Sistani’s al-wajib al-kifai fatwa, which itself very carefully restricts recruitment to only as many as needed to combat the threat posed by the Islamic State. Yet, a PMF administrator in Najaf told the author that more than enough recruits have joined. They are having no trouble attracting members who come from a diverse set of social classes and geographic regions. According to him, the only distinguishable group that is not joining is university students.” (CEIP, 1 February 2016)

CEIP further elaborates on different ways of PMF recruitment:

“Without formal conscription, various avenues for PMF recruitment have emerged. These include existing political parties and armed groups, the Shia religious establishment and individual clerics, and increasingly, state officials. The PMF, formally established by Nouri al-Maliki in early 2014, is able to recruit with ease partly because it is made up of various political parties and armed paramilitaries that have been active in Iraq for some time. For example, the Badr Corps, which is one of the larger groups in the al-Hashd al-Shaabi, was formed in the early 1980s and became one of the strongest organizations in Iraq after 2003. A well-established base helped with the recruitment campaign, particularly after the fall of Mosul in June 2014, when Iraq’s was in shambles. While the MOD [Ministry of Defence] struggled to rebound, the PMF benefitted from its existing political party and paramilitary institutions that were already in place to enroll volunteers. Existing members of the parties were easily able to enlist and those who were not already members easily found a group to join via the various offices. In short, the political parties provided a quick channel for recruitment in all localities—a luxury that the waning Iraqi Ministry of Defense lacked. According to other PMF officials, the recruitment campaign is successful because it is administered by the religious establishment. One administrator claimed that the PMF benefitted from the role of the Najaf’s hawza 'ilmiyya, a Shia seminary, and particularly from Sistani’s office in Najaf. Sistani’s fatwa gave the PMF a religious legitimacy. Moreover, Shia religious scholars from the hawza are instrumental in recruitment, from issuing sermons, to posting banners on the streets, to organizing advertisements in the media. Most of the cities in the south are awash with posters celebrating the PMF. Many of these banners call for the citizens to defend the area and assert ‘with you we will win’. Recruitment videos also play on Shia expressions, such as ‘labbaik ya Husayn’ or ‘at your service oh Hussein’” (CEIP, 1 February 2016)

The New York based Online-newspaper International Business Times (IBT) describes recruitment efforts of Shia militias in a March 2015 article:

“‘They know how to get people into the mix, they know how to keep getting people information,‘ said Phillip Smyth, a University of Maryland researcher who studies Shiite militias in Iraq, Lebanon and Syria. 'I would actually make the argument that it’s more advanced than ISIS. They’ve got very good graphics ... and no one pulls it down,‘ he said, in a reference to the blocking of accounts related to the Islamic State group on Facebook and Twitter. But Iran-backed militias had already been recruiting in Iraq months before Mosul, the country’s second-biggest city, fell to the Islamic State group in June [2014] - and they were doing so with decidedly low-tech means. Using posters and calls for recruits on Iraqi television stations, they were able to exploit their local reach to great effect. ‘For Iraqi Shia, they can just go the local Shia mosque ... and ask to join a certain militia in the fight against ISIS,‘ said the pseudonymous Sinan Adnan, an Iraq analyst at the Institute for the Study of War. ‘Although they do need to have online recruitment, I don’t think it is as robust or as needed as it is for other groups who cannot be as open about their recruitment apparatus.‘ Shiite militias can also use Iran-backed TV channels to widen their reach. In June, Kataib Hezbollah, aka Kata’ib Hizballah, a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization with direct ties to Iran, showed recruitment contact information on Al-Etejah TV, a pro-Iran channel. A month later, the same militia broadcast an appeal for donations complete with bank-account information, footage of which was then cut and distributed as a YouTube clip to garner more donations from Shiites outside Iraq.“ (IBT, 12 March 2015)

The Counter Extremism Project (CEP), an independent political organisation for combatting extremist ideologies based in London, describes the recruitment strategies of the pro-Iranian militia Asa’ib Ahl al-Haqq (AAH) in an overview last updated in March 2017:

“AAH [Asa’ib Ahl al-Haqq] recruitment focuses on two strategies: traditional propaganda efforts to raise the group’s profile, and a comprehensive religious system aimed to indoctrinate and recruit members. AAH has also emulated groups like ISIS by using social media to expand recruitment throughout the Middle East, South Asia, and the West. The group also owns and operates Iraqi TV channel al-Aahd. One of the main ways AAH draws recruits is by advertising itself as a protector of the Shiite community within Iraq and abroad. AAH uses posters and issues calls for recruits on Iraqi television stations, often emphasizing its connection with Iran and Hezbollah. One AAH member said that he was drawn to AAH because it was ‘protecting the Shiite community inside Iraq and abroad as well.’ In the past, the most important galvanizing point for Iraqis to join AAH and go to Syria to fight alongside Assad forces was the defense of the Sayeda Zenab shrine, a Shiite holy site in a Damascus suburb. AAH has seized homes and offices in Baghdad in order to establish recruiting centers where would-be volunteers could go to join other Shiites fighting in Syria. In southern Iraq, posters urge men to join the fight in Syria with other Iraqi Shiites and provide a hotline number to call. In August 2012, AAH distributed over 20,000 posters with AAH’s logo; a photograph of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei; and a photograph of the late Iraqi Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr. The posters were plastered on buildings and billboards and also used in street demonstrations. AAH’s second, but perhaps most comprehensive, recruitment strategy is a religious activism and education system. The group uses two mosques in particular, the Sabatayn mosque in Baghdad and the Abdullah al-Radiya mosque in al-Khalis, as hubs for recruitment. AAH leaders give sermons at these mosques, advocating social and religious reform in Iraq in an attempt to entice attendees into joining, financing, or otherwise contributing to AAH’s mission. AAH has expanded its reach through a network of religious schools known as the ‘Seal of the Apostles.’ These schools, spread throughout Iraq, serve as propaganda and recruitment facilities for the group. As with its military and political structures, AAH also appears to be emulating Hezbollah by launching social services programs for widows and orphans. AAH’s recruitment efforts are funded in large part by Iran.“ (CEP, last updated 16 March 2017a)

In an overview of the Shia militia Badr Organisation, the CEP mentions that this organisation recruits fighters for its military wing via popular committees that have been established since April 2014:

“Since April 2014, the Badr Organization has established numerous city-based ‘popular committees’ to recruit fighters for its military wing. After Iraq’s most influential Shiite cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani issued a fatwa in July 2014 calling on Iraqis to fight ISIS, one Badr Organization recruiter claims to have received 7,000 applications.“ (CEP, last updated 16 March 2017b)

With regard to the pro-Iranian militia Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH), the CEP notes that the group was advertising its fight against U.S. forces in Iraq and its support of the Assad regime in Syria in order to attract recruits:

“KH [Kata’ib Hezbollah] has sought to lure recruits by advertising its fight against U.S. forces in Iraq. Following the start of the Syrian civil war, the group also advertised its efforts to support Assad forces in neighboring Syria. During the U.S.-led war in Iraq, KH filmed attacks against U.S. and coalition targets, publishing the films online for propaganda and recruitment purposes. During the Arab Spring, KH and fellow Shiite militia Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH) also attempted to attract recruits to fight anti-Assad rebels in Syria by advertising their involvement there. They did so by holding public funerals for fighters in Shiite neighbors in Baghdad, and by posting updates on the groups’ Facebook pages. The two groups also posted phone numbers around Baghdad to attract potential recruits.” (CEP, last updated 16 March 2017c)

Bawaba al-Harakat al-Islamiyya, a pro-Sunni website describing itself as a website with studies on political Islam and minorities, reports in May 2015 with regard to the group Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH) that the group is not only active in armed fighting but plays a role in society. Similar to Hezbollah in Lebanon, it tries to recruit additional people for their ranks through welfare and relief activities. A person named Khaled Ismail, also known as Abu Mustafa, is responsible for KH‘s financing and recruitment activities. According to Bawaba, KH and the volunteers of Saraya al-Difac al-Shaabi (a unit recruited by KH) is active in various regions, for instance in Salahadin province, in the north of Babil province and in the Baghdad belt. Bawaba also mentions that KH founded a scout organisation named al-Imam Hussein in 2011 with the aim of training children and youths and to subsequently push them into the ranks of the KH. (Bawaba al-Harakat al-Islamiyya, 6 May 2015)


The German-language version of the French monthly magazine Le Monde Diplomatique writes in August 2016 that the members of the PMF can be seen as a social movement rather than recruits who are enlisted for military service. The PMF are rooted in the imagination and behaviour patterns of a Shia society seeking orientation. The war against the Islamic State is being associated with the massacre of Hussein and his companions in the battle of Kerbala in 680, one of the historical starting points of Shiism. This tragedy is the central reference point for the societal piety and the collective consciousness of the Shia. (Le Monde Diplomatique, 11 August 2016)


The Iraqi TV channel Al-Ghadeer TV, which appears to be associated with the Badr Organisation, often reports on military successes of the Badr militia and distributes statements of the organisation. In a September 2014 online article it published a statement of the armed wing of the Badr Organisation, aimed at all Iraqi citizens and political leaders of the country. In the statement it is noted that the participation of the armed wing in the fight against the Islamic State is backed up by legal opinions (Fatwas) of religious leaders and that the participation of the USA in this fight is rejected. Below this statement there are many comments left by young people offering their mobile phone numbers and asking to be contacted because they are interested in serving as volunteers in the armed wing of the Badr Organisation. (Al-Ghadeer TV, 17 September 2014)


A December 2015 article by journalist Jonathan Steele published by the independently financed online news organisation Middle East Eye (MEE) mentions strong communal pressure to join the Hashd and „heavy-handed recruiting tactics“:

“There is strong communal pressure for young men to join the hashd. They are supposed to earn $625 a month, a relatively generous wage, but there is no time limit on their service. ’They will fight until the battle against IS is over,’ as Maytham Rahi of the Abbas battalion put it. Some of this summer’s refugees to Europe are known to be deserters from hashd, while other refugees have claimed that they have escaped the hashd's heavy-handed recruiting tactics.” (MEE, 1 December 2015)

The US Department of State (USDOS) in its human rights report of March 2017 (reporting period 2016) refers to the recruitment of children by the PMF:

“Additionally, armed Shia groups, under the banner of the PMF, continued to give weapons training and military-style physical fitness conditioning to children under the age of 18 at summer training camps. The government and the statements of Shia religious leaders expressly forbid children under the age of 18 from serving in combat; there was evidence on social media, however, of children serving in combat positions. For example, the official ‘Ideological Guidance’ page of the PMF website lauded a 14-year-old volunteer from Basrah for fighting alongside his father in Fallujah. The head of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Basrah office said, ‘children from poor neighborhoods in Basrah are leaving school to volunteer’ with PMF groups. The head of a Basrah NGO visited PMF units in Salah al-Din, where she encountered teenage volunteers serving on the front lines. On April 20, the United Nations verified 12 reported cases of recruitment of children by militias affiliated with the PMF, all of whom had been killed in combat.“ (USDOS, 3 March 2017, section 1g)

The following sources mention incidents or concerns regarding forced recruitment by militias or communal pressure to join the PFM, however, they do not refer to Shia regions but to areas predominantly inhabited by Sunnis:


The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) mentions allegation of forced recruitment of male residents in newly retaken areas of Mosul in a Mosul Weekly Protection Update dated January 2017:

“UNHCR and other protection actors note with concern, allegation of forced recruitment, including minors, of male residents in newly retaken areas in Mosul. It is also reported that IDPs fleeing the eastern side of Mosul are forced, also, by tribal militia to join the military offensive through preparing meals, carrying weapons or taking up arms. IDPs are reported to be under the risk of being accused or tainted of affiliation with armed groups should they refuse or show reluctance and that one ‘volunteered’ male per family reportedly absolves the family from allegations of affiliation with the armed group. UNHCR and protection partners continue to track and intervene on such allegations for high level intervention.” (UNHCR, 20 January 2017)

In a December 2016 report on child protection, the Global Protection Cluster, an inter-agency cooperation initiative under the lead of UNHCR, mentions concerns of male IDP’s in the city of Shirqat in Salahuddin province about being coerced and recruited to fight with PMF:

“Shirqat, male IDPs are also worried about being coerced and recruited to fight with Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF). IDPs are coerced to join PMF to show they are not IS-affiliated. Children are also at high risk for recruitment. The area is heavily controlled by PMF and the pressure to join the militias was a concern identified during the RPA [Rapid Protection Assessment].“ (Global Protection Cluster, 13 December 2016)

Consequences of refusing to be recruited

Among the sources consulted by ACCORD no information could be found on consequences of refusing to be recruited.



References: (all links accessed 9 June 2017)

·      Al-Ghadeer TV: bayan al-muqawama al-islamiya al-jinah al-caskary li-munaththamat badr [statement of the Islamic resistance – the armed wing of the Badr-Organisation], 17 September 2014

·      Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi: official website, undated

·      Bawaba al-Harakat al-Islamiya: Kata’ib hezbollah…milishiya al-damm fi-l-ciraq [Kata’ib Hisbollah…bloodthirsty militia in Iraq], 6 May 2015

·      CEIP – Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: The Popularity of the Hashd in Iraq, 1 February 2016

·      CEP – Counter Extremism Project: Asaib Ahl al-Haq, last updated 16 March 2017a

·      CEP – Counter Extremism Project: Badr Organisation, last updated 16 March 2017b

·      CEP – Counter Extremism Project: Kata’ib Hezbollah, last updated 16 March 2017c

·      Global Protection Cluster: Iraq Child Protection Sub-Cluster: Secondary Data Review, 13 December 2016 (published by ReliefWeb)

·      IBT - International Business Times: World Iraqi Shiite Militias Fighting ISIS Are Using Social Media To Recruit Foreign Fighters, 12 March 2015

·      Jamestown Foundation: Iraq’s Shia Militias: Helping or Hindering the Fight Against Islamic State? Terrorism Monitor Volume: 14 Issue: 9, 29 April 2016 (available at

·      Le Monde Diplomatique: Die Märtyrer von Basra, 11 August 2016!5328319

·      MEE - Middle East Eye: Sunni tribes joining Shia militias as war against IS heats up in Iraq (Autor: Jonathan Steele), 1 December 2015

·      Oxford Analytica Daily Brief: Iraq will keep Shia militias out of Mossul, 17 October 2016

·      The New Arab: A fistful of Dollars: Iraqis recruited for Assad’s war, 4 February 2016

·      UNHCR - UN High Commissioner for Refugees: Mosul Weekly Protection Update 14-20 January, 2017, 20 January 2017 (available at

·      USDOS - US Department of State: Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2016 - Iraq, 3 March 2017 (available at