Mourners pray over coffins draped with Iraqi flags for four Shiite fighters during the funeral procession inside the shrine of Imam Ali in Najaf, 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of Baghdad, Iraq, Jan. 10, 2014. (AP Photo/Jaber al-Helo)
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Iraqi Shiite militias are deploying in increasing numbers in Syria in support of President Bashar Assad's forces, following a massive recruitment drive in Iraq.Reports that Iraqi fighters were in Syria first emerged in October 2012 .Indicating a growing role of Iraqi Shiite militias in Syria are increasing reports from opposition fighters claiming the Iraqis have been responsible for mass killings during combat operations. A number of videos have also emerged of Iraqi Shiite militia members who have been captured or killed by Syrian opposition rebels. The men say they are fighting alongside regime forces in Damascus and near the Sayyida Zeinab shrine south of the capital.One of the men, who says he is a driver with the Asaib Ahl al-Haqq group, claims he transported groups of Iraqi fighters between Syria and Iraq "every 10 to 15 days" and also participated in fighting. Phillip Smyth, a researcher at the University of Maryland and an expert on Iraqi Shiite militias, estimated there are now a minimum of 5,000 Iraqi Shiites fighting in Syria, but added that was a conservative estimate.
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