Hizballah is reportedly planning to send fighters to the battle of Mosul at Iran's request to placate Sunni leaders because it is an Arab force.
Hizballah will send around 800 fighters to take part in the battle of Mosul against the Islamic State group (IS), a well-positioned source has told al-Araby al-Jadeed.
The Lebanese group is reportedly responding to a request by the Iranian government. Iran has played a major role in the battle for Tikrit.
"Hizballah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah agreed to send around 800 of his party’s elite fighters following an official Iranian-Iraqi request,” the source, a senior leader in the Popular Mobilization militia explained.
The source said the request is both politically and militarily motivated. Politically, objections made by Sunni leaders against Iranian intervention in Iraq apply to a lesser degree with Hizballah because it is a Lebanese Arab force, he said.
Hizballah's fighters will reportedly be stationed in special camps, and have a headquarters in Samarra.
Militarily there is a "similarity between the topography of south Lebanon and the mountainous and steppe-like terrain in Mosul." Hizballah is also experienced in guerilla warfare, the source added.
Iran will supply the fighters with heavy weapons before the battle, he said.
The Popular Mobilization leader said Hizballah's fighters would arrive in Iraq within two or three weeks, as long as the situation does not deteriorate along Lebanon's southern border. Last month, Hizballah withdrew its advisers from Iraq after Israeli forces carried out an attack on the border area.
The fighters will reportedly be stationed in special camps, and have a headquarters in Samarra from where they will prepare and plan the offensive in Mosul. Mosul is IS's main stronghold in Iraq.
“Iran has started preparing a joint operations room in Samarra, led by the commander of the Qods Force Qassem Soleimani and other leaders from the Popular Mobilization and Hizballah”, he added.
Iran is reportedly seeking to ensure the US does not send ground troops to retake Mosul, as some members of the US Congress have called for. It also wants to lead the battle without international coalition forces taking part, and it's airforce will play a major role during the offensive.
Iran led the battle in Tikrit, under the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and commanded by Qassem Soleimani. Many Iraqis have voiced concerns about Iran’s intentions in their country.