Assad deploys foreign fighters in capital to protect Shiite shrines

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Shiite fighters from neighboring countries are flocking to Damascus to defend their religious sites and defend Bashar al-Assad against advancing Sunni-dominated opposition forces. Many of these foreign guerrillas fight under the umbrella group of the Abu al-Fadl al-Abbas Brigade. They come from Iraq, Lebanon, Iran and Pakistan.

In Damascus, they are no strangers; they roam the streets and often clash with the members of the Free Syrian Army.

Their brigade is based in Sayeda Zeinab district and its 12 battalions are deployed in al-Hajar al-Aswad and Qaboun.

Leaked footage shows the deployment of brigade members under the flag of the Syrian regime army in al-Jobar.

The brigade was formed a few months ago amid the escalation of clashes around the capital, and is now fighting its main battles around the shrine of Sayeda Zeinab, south of Damascus.

The growing phenomenon of foreign fighters in the regime’s army follows the public calls by State Mufti, Ahmad Hassoun, who believes it is every Muslim’s duty to defend the regime. His call has apparently been heard and reinforced by Damascus’s sectarian dimension.

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