Extremists involved in discussing deal with Qatar
TUNIS - Below are the extremist groups that were involved in discussing a deal with Qatar:
Formed after the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Shia group Kata’ib Hezbollah came to prominence in 2007 when it attacked US-led coalition forces. Trained and funded by Iran’s al-Quds force, the group is thought to be supplied with additional weapons and training by Lebanon’s Hezbollah.
Kata’ib Hezbollah is accused of generating revenue through kidnappings and ransom payments across Iraq and Syria.
Jabhat al-Nusra, known as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, was an al-Qaeda-affiliated Sunni jihadist group laying siege to the Syrian Shia majority towns of Fua and Kefraya in Syria’s Idlib province at the time of the four towns deal.
Founded in January 2012, Jabhat al-Nusra pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda in April 2013.
One of Jabhat al-Nusra’s principal jihadist rivals, Ahrar al-Sham had established militia units by the time of the Syrian uprising in March 2011.
Jockeying for control of Idlib at the time of the deal, Ahrar al-Sham was instrumental in allowing civilians to evacuate from Fua and Kefraya.
Major-General Qassem Soleimani has been the commander of Iran’s al-Quds Force, the external wing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), since 1998 and has proven instrumental in developing IRGC proxy groups throughout the region.
Solemani has been especially active in Iraq, where he led al-Quds Force operations across the country, overseeing the deployment of about 100,000 Iraqi Shia fighters, including members of Kata’ib Hezbollah, and establishing six Iranian training camps, US military estimates stated.
Founded in 1983, Hezbollah has established itself as the pre-eminent pro-Iranian proxy in the region. Hezbollah has deployed extensively in Iraq and Syria.
At the time of the deal, Hezbollah was taking control of two Sunni-dominated towns near the Lebanese border. In return for supporting the deal, Hezbollah is said to have agreed to halt the siege and allow inhabitants to leave.