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Paramilitaries of Iran man a heavy machine gun during Iran-Iraq War

A paramilitary is a militarised force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces.[1] Under the Law of Armed Conflict, a state may incorporate a paramilitary organization or armed agency (charged with police functions) into its armed forces. The other parties to a conflict have to be notified thereof.[2]

The term paramilitary is subjective, depending on what is considered similar to a military force, and what status a force is considered to have. The nature of paramilitary forces therefore varies greatly according to the speaker and the context.


Depending on context, "paramilitaries" may include:

In the United Kingdom, the term is often restricted to armed groups involved in the Northern Ireland Troubles, such as the Ulster Volunteer Force or the Provisional Irish Republican Army.


See also


  1. "paramilitary". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. June 2005; online version June 2011. http://oed.com/search?searchType=dictionary&q=paramilitary. Retrieved 2011-09-13. "Designating, of, or relating to a force or unit whose function and organization are analogous or ancillary to those of a professional military force, but which is not regarded as having professional or legitimate status." 
  2. "Customary IHL - Section B. Incorporation of paramilitary or armed law enforcement agencies into armed forces". Icrc.org. http://www.icrc.org/customary-ihl/eng/docs/v2_cou_nl_rule4_sectionb. Retrieved 2013-07-27. 

Further reading

External links

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