The Hashd al-Shaabi were formed in June 2014 after a fatwa by Grand Ayatollah Sistani called on Iraqis to defend their country. Since then they have been involved in almost all of the major battles in Iraq. While the press has reported on some of their losses, the Hashd itself makes no official announcements about its casualties. Most of the time it reports its dead on social media like Facebook, and via martyrdom posters. Recently two articles gave rough estimates on Hashd losses.
Hashd leaders gave casualty figures to the press twice, but they could be exaggerated to gain political points for the groups’ sacrifices in the war against the Islamic State. First, in December 2015, the secretary general of the Sayid al-Shuhada Brigades was quoted in Al-Sumaria saying that there had been 20,000 Hashd casualties since the start of the war. Then in March 2016 the Associated Press reported that 5,000 Hashd had died and 16,000 were injured fighting IS. From June 2014 to February 2016 there have only been 3,341 deaths and 3,981 wounded amongst the Hashd in the media. Even if the dead were close to the actual figure the wounded number is way off. There are usually 2-4 times as many wounded as dead and those two are almost equal when it comes to the Hashd. That doesn’t mean the two numbers in the articles were correct either. Hashd officials could be inflating their losses to gain more power and prestige from their role in the war. By saying that they had lost so many men they could be asking for more influence within the government and for more funding. Still, the figures are believable because the compilation of daily press releases are obviously being censored hence the dead and wounded being so close. What the real numbers are may never be known, but these two reports may provide a rough estimate of some of the costs of the war.
Alsumaria, “Martyrs Briagde: The Engineer bought weapons for defense valued at $300 million,” 12/2/15
Hendawi, Hamza and Abdul-Zahra, Qassim, “Fears in Iraqi government, army over Shiite militias’ power,” Associated Press, 3/21/16
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