Sectarian Discourse is on the Rise Among Iranian Militias in Syria ... And Risks Crossing a Red Line for the Government

Alexander Falconer | 2 May, 2018

Sectarian discourse among Iranian militias has been gradually increasing in Syria - even to the point where it which may be crossing a red line for the government.

One video clip which has been circulating on social media platforms shows a member of an Iranian militia, a man named Zayn al-Abidin Murad, promising during the funeral of one of his colleagues to "burn Damascus and its inhabitants".

In the video, Zayn al-Abidin boards a vehicle during the funeral procession while speaking animatedly and provocatively, threatening to burn Damascus and its residents and to cut off the heads of Syrians, comparing the northern Shia towns of al-Foua and Kafraya to Iraq's Karbala. 

The funeral in question was for a militiaman named Fahd Samir Nizam, a member of the Iran-linked al-Jaafariya Forces faction. Nizam had been killed by sniper fire in the al-Hajar al-Aswad neighborhood in southern Damascus on April 30; his funeral was held on May 1. 

Zayn al-Abidin himself is a resident of Deir Ezzor city, and originates from the town of Nabal in Aleppo Governorate. He has participated in campaigns of "Shiafication" in Deir Ezzor Governorate, which have been spearheaded by government-linked security forces.

According to activists, the provocative and sectarian rhetoric of Iran-backed militias may risk crossing a red line for Bashar al-Assad's government when it threatens the Syrian capital and regime strongholds.  

Zayn al-Abidin Murad Photo

Translated By: Alexander Falconer