Crispin Smith is an associate at a Washington-based national security law group, focusing on Iraqi security, human rights, and law of armed conflict issues. He is a cofounder of the Militia Spotlight platform.
Michael Knights is the Jill and Jay Bernstein Fellow of The Washington Institute, specializing in the military and security affairs of Iraq, Iran, and the Persian Gulf states. He is a co-founder of the Militia Spotlight platform, which offers in-depth analysis of developments related to the Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria.
With probable links to Kataib Hezbollah, this minor facade group claimed a major rocket attack on al-Asad Air Base, but mainly limits itself to claimed bombings against U.S. supply convoys.
Name: Liwa Khaybar (LK). The name is a reference to a Jewish citadel in Hejaz that was conquered by Muslim warriors led by the Prophet Muhammad. Based on Islamic texts, Ali, the first Shia Imam, played a crucial role in this victory.
Type of movement: Facade group. Kinetic military operations. Domestic counter-U.S.operations.
History and objectives:
LK first appeared on March 17, 2021, when it published a video purportedly showing two operations. One of these operations was a claimed rocket attack against U.S. troops at al-Asad Air Base on March 3 of that year.
LK claimed responsibility for a purported drone attack on Iraqi facilities at Balad, north of Baghdad, on April 28, 2021.
LK has claimed a few attacks against U.S. logistical convoys: near Yusufiya, Baghdad province, on February 8, 2021 (the claim was made after the group announced its existence that March); in Anbar province on April 29, 2021 (exact location unknown); in Diwaniyah province on December 16, 2021; on the Basra-Diwaniyah highway on December 21, 2021; and again in Yusufiya on January 9, 2022.
On May 13, 2021, in the midst of escalated fighting between Hamas and Israel, LK posted a graphic portraying al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. The image also showed three rockets seemingly directed at the city, with a caption reading “You will hear their sound, in support of Quds.”
Chain of command:
The preponderance of evidence shows that LK is linked to the Iran-backed militia Kataib Hezbollah (KH). For example, the activities of KH-affiliated media platforms suggested that LK was behind the March 3, 2021, rocket attack against al-Asad Air Base. LK subsequently claimed the operation directly.
No known affiliate relationships at present. As noted below, Sabereen News reposts LK claims.
LK ran a Telegram channel for around four months. The account's last message was posted July 3, 2021, after which the channel was disbanded. Subsequent LK attack claims were posted by wider muqawama (resistance) social media networks, especially Sabereen News.