Volunteers Ill-Prepared to Fight IS

By Wassim Bassem for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

A popular mobilization is occurring in Iraq in response to the “righteous jihad” fatwa issued three days after the Islamic State (IS) occupied Mosul on July 10.

Saad Hamid is among the 200 individuals who volunteered to help the Iraqi army stop the IS advance. Enlisted in a one-month training program in al-Kafal village, south of Babylon, he was being trained to use weapons and in combat techniques before he was expected to join his peers on the battlefield.

Hamid enthusiastically relayed his impressions to Al-Monitor. He said that he was ready to fight IS and defend the country in response to the call to jihad. There are other reasons behind his haste to volunteer, however, including unemployment and difficult financial straits.

He told Al-Monitor, “I am reassured because I am receiving a fixed monthly salary to provide for my family, which includes my mother and three siblings.”

Like Said, the majority of volunteers are poor and trying to find a livelihood at any cost. Every volunteer receives a $400 monthly salary, which is raised to $600 once he enters the battlefield.

In a training camp in Babylon’s Hillah, in the former US Kaslo base, Hassan al-Jabbouri, 19, trained for a month and a half before joining the combat troops in mid-July in Jurf al-Sakhar, north of Babylon. The area is the site of attack-and-retreat battles between the army, security forces and volunteers on one side and armed groups on the other.

Despite Jabbouri’s enthusiasm and his belief that fighting IS is a national duty, he told Al-Monitor, “The majority of volunteers did not receive proper training and lack combat expertise. In addition to this, the majority of them are young and poor, and they see in volunteering a chance to secure an income.”

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