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The Moderate Rebels: A Complete and Growing List of Vetted Groups


(UPDATE May 10: 2015: Hasan Mustafa has the most up to date version of this list and there have been some significant changes. Please visit his blog by clicking here.)

Shortly after U.S. president Obama declared war on the so-called Islamic State (ISIS/IS), a bogus claim by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) about a non-aggression pact between ISIS and an unnamed unit of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) went viral largely due to ignorance about which moderaterebels the U.S. and its “Friends of Syria” allies are supporting. This guest post byHasan Mustafa (@hasanmustafas) is an attempt to cure that ignorance and make future pseudo-scandals less likely by detailing who the U.S.-backed moderate rebels are using open-source information.

Those who oppose arming the FSA often claim that advanced weapons have already fallen or will fall into the hands of extremists, but the results of arming rebel forces thus far indicate otherwise. A recent report by the Carter Centerfound that of the foreign-supplied tube-launched optically-tracked wireless-guided anti-tank missiles (TOWs), HJ-8s, and RAK-12s that:

“… few of these weapon systems appear to have been distributed beyond their intended recipients or captured by the IS during its recent offensives throughout Syria. Of the total 274 times these weapons have been seen in the possession of armed opposition groups, they have only been observed six times in the use of an organization unlikely to be a direct recipient. All six of these instances were in the Daraa and Quneitra governorates in the possession of Harakat Ahrar al-Sham.”

The most notable form of direct American support has been the supply of TOWs to certain rebel groups vetted by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. The missiles themselves most likely come from Saudi Arabia’s stockpile, although by law the supply of American-made weapons to a third party must be approved by the U.S. The approved groups overwhelmingly belong to the FSA, many have recognized the Syrian National Coalition of Opposition and Revolutionary Forces (Etilaf), and all are committed to letting the Syrian people decide their own future.

5Corps5th Corps: The 5th Corps is a recently declared formation consisting of five moderate rebel groups linked to the FSA’s Supreme Military Council (SMC) that have all adopted the revolutionary independence flag as their symbol. Led by a joint command council, it consists of the 13th Division, the 101st Division, Knights of Truth Brigade, Suqour Jabal al-Zawiya Brigade, and the 1st Brigades. All five have received TOWs provided by the international “Friends of Syria” alliance led by the U.S. through the Military Operations Command center in Reyhanli, Turkey. Active in northern Syria, the 5th Corps commands a few thousand men who fight against both the Syrian regime and ISIS. Social Media:YouTube; Facebook.

The 5th Corps’ constituent brigades are described in detail below:

1313th Division (Furqa 13): Formed in 2013, the 13th Division commands more than 1,800 fighters in Idlib, Aleppo, and Hama governorates. The division is divided into 10 companies and is headquartered in the town of Ma’arrat al-Numan in Idlib. It was among the first rebel brigades to begin receiving TOWs. Under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Ahmad Al-Sa’oud, the 13th Division has fought in the battles of Aleppo, Morek, Khan Shaykhun and participates in the sieges of Wadi al-Deif and Al-Hamdiyyeh military bases. It is a part of theSyrian Revolutionary Command Council, a grassroots bottom-up effort to unitefighting factions across the secular-Islamist ideological divide. The 13th Division receives funding from the U.S. through the SMC. It advocates the creation of acivil (meaning non-religious) state. Social Media: YouTube; Twitter; Facebook.ForsanAlHakKnights of Truth Brigade (Liwa’ Fursan al-Haqq): An FSA-banner group sanctioned by Etilaf. The Knights of Truth Brigade is active in Idlib, Hama, and Aleppo governorates. The group controls the town of Kafranbel where it formed in early 2012. It fought in the battles of Aleppo, Morek, Khan Shaykhun and the sieges of Wadi al-Deif and Al-Hamdiyyeh military bases. This brigade is also active in the fight against ISIS. It is among the 32 rebel factions that make up the Syrian Revolutionary Command Council and receives funding from Qatar.Social Media: YouTube; website; Twitter; Facebook.101101st Division (Furqa 101): Led by defected air force pilot Colonel Hassan Miri’l Hamdeh, the 101st Division of the FSA is an Etilaf-sanctioned group that was among the early recipients of TOWs. Like other 5th Corps members, the 101st Division operates in the Idlib, Hama, and Aleppo governorates and is active in the fight against both the Syrian regime and ISIS. It too recently joined the Syrian Revolutionary Command Council and notably includes religious minorities in leadership positions. Social Media: YouTube; Facebook.FalconsFalcons of Mount Zawiya Brigade (Liwa’ Suqour Jabal al-Zawiya): An FSA unit that was once part of Ahfad al-Rasul and later the Syria Revolutionaries Front (SRF) coalition led by Jamal Marouf that formed in early 2014 to fight ISIS. After leaving the SRF due to its internal disputes, Suqour Jabal al-Zawiya joined the 5th Corps. The group was funded by Qatar and is now funded by the U.S. government and receives TOWs. It is based in the Jabal al-Zawiya region and operates mainly in Idlib governorate. Social Media:YouTubeYouTube, YouTube.1stBrigades5thcorps1st Brigade Infantry (Liwa’ al-Awwal Masha’): An FSA group active in the Idlib governorate, in the vicinity of Ma’arat al Numan which is an important opposition stronghold. 1st Brigade Infantry is a constituent of the 5th Corps.Social Media: YouTube; Facebook.hazmMovement of Steadfastness/Hazm Movement (Harakat Hazm): The first group to receive TOWs and the most well-known FSA group officially designated “moderate.” The Movement of Steadfastness fields 5,000 fighters dispersed throughout Aleppo, Idlib, Hama, and Homs governorates as well as the northern areas of Damascus governorate. It was formed in early 2014 after the union of 22 smaller rebel brigades. Leaders of the Movement of Steadfastness include Bilal Atar and Abdullah Awda. The Movement of Steadfastness has received the most international support due to its moderate political leanings and strong military organization. Along with TOWs, the group also fields a large number of artillery pieces and armoured vehicles. The Movement of Steadfastness fights in a number of fronts and battles including Sheikh Najjar, Khan Shaykhun, Morek, northern Homs, and in the Aleppo countryside (against ISIS). It is an important constituent of the Syrian Revolutionary Command Council and it fights ISIS as part of the Nahrawan al-Sham Operations Room alongside mostly Islamist groups (but excluding Jabhat al-Nusra). A number of its fighters have been trained in Qatar. Social Media: YouTube; Twitter;website.zenkiNour al-Din al-Zenki Movement (Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki):Named after Nour al-Din Zenki, Emir of the Seljuk Sultanate’s Syrian province who battled the Crusaders and was a contemporary of Saladin, Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement is one of Aleppo governorate’s most powerful rebel factions despite being an independent rebel grouping. It played an important role in seizing large parts of Aleppo in 2012. Once part of the One-ness Brigade (Liwa’ al-Tawhid), the Authenticity and Development Front, and later the Army of Holy Warriors (Jaish al-Mujahideen), Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement now fights independently against the regime and ISIS. Described as non-ideologically Islamist and commanded by Sheikh Tawfiq Shahabuddin, Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement recently voiced its support for Etilaf and is a member of the Syrian Revolutionary Command Council and fights against ISIS in northern Aleppo through the aforementioned Nahrawan al-Sham Operations Room. It receives funding primarily from the Saudi Arabian and U.S. governments as well as shipments of TOWs. Its Islamist rhetoric has shifted towards pragmatism and it believes in a political solution with the current regime. Social Media: YouTube;Facebook.abdo2Ahmad al-Abdo Martyrs Brigades and Battalions (Alwiyat wa’ Kata’ib Shuhada Ahmad al-Abdo): An FSA-linked group that operates primarily in the Qalamoun and northern Rif Dimashq regions. Ahmad al-Abdo Brigades first used TOW missiles in May of 2014 and have also been in possession of Chinese-made HJ-8 anti-tank missiles paid for by Qatar and supplied from Sudan. The brigades have been involved in the capture of Brigade 559 and the siege of Dumayr airbase. This group was one of the earliest recipients of TOWs and was most likely vetted several months ago. It is under the command of a defected colonel, Bakur Salim al-Salim, who also heads the military council in Damascus governorate. The group is named after Ahmad al-Abdo al-Saeed, a civilian killed by the regime early in the 2011 protests. Social Media: YouTube; Facebook.alGhabFalcons of al-Ghab (Tajammu Suqour al-Ghab): An FSA brigade operating throughout western Hama governate under the authority of the Hama Military Council. They are headquartered in the town of Qalaat al-Madiq which is situated in the al-Ghab plain. Falcons of al-Ghab is affiliated with the SMC and has received TOWs. It was formed early in the revolutionary war and played an important role in captured the al-Ghab region. More recently, the group has been involved in the Great Badr al-Sham offensive in northern Hama. This group is also a member of the Syrian Revolutionary Command Council and is led by Jamil Raadoun, a defected lieutenant from the air defence forces. Social Media:YouTube; Twitter; Facebook.chargersBrigade of the Chargers (Liwa Al-Adiyat): An FSA brigade that operates in Idlib governate and the northern Latakia countryside. The group was a former member of Grandsons of the Prophet Brigade (Ahfad al-Rasul). Brigade of the Chargers was vetted by the “Friends of Syria” alliance several months ago and was an early operator of TOWs. It has taken part in the Al-Anfal Offensive and is active on fronts near the cities of Idlib and Jisr al-Shughur. A number of its fighters have been trained in Qatar and the brigade also receives funding from Qatar. It is led by Muhammad Haj Ali and contains mostly local fighters. Social Media: YouTube; Google+.

mujArmyArmy of Holy Warriors (Jaish al-Mujahideen): An Islamist rebel coalitionin the Aleppo governorate originally formed to fight ISIS in early 2014, Army of Holy Warriors splintered after the Nour al-Din al-Zinki Movement seceded along with a number of other substituents. Nonetheless, it remains an important rebel group in the Aleppo governorate. They are a member of the Ahl-e-Sham Operations Room (alongside Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic Front) and fight against ISIS through the Nahrawan al-Sham Operations Room. As of September 27, 2014, Army of Holy Warriors has completed the U.S. vetting process but advanced arms have yet to arrive. It is led by Captain Mohammed Shakerdi and estimates put the group’s current strength at around 5,000 fighters. Army of Holy Warriors maintains close relations with local civilian governing councils and with Etilaf. Social Media: Youtube; Twitter.martyrsSyrian Martyrs’ Brigades and Battalions (Tajammu Kata’ib wa’ Alwiyat Shuhada Souriya): Led by Jamal Maarouf, it was one of the earliest FSA brigades formed. The Syrian Martyrs’ Brigade today makes up the leading component in SRF. Their powerbase is in the Jabal al-Zawiyah region, an important opposition stronghold. Syrian Martyrs’ Brigade operates throughout the Idlib, Hama, and Aleppo governorates. They have received support from Saudi Arabia and were recently supplied with TOWs. Presently, many of its operations are carried out under the SRF name. The overall SRF coalition played an important role in ridding Idlib governorate of ISIS completely early in 2014.Social Media: Facebook; YouTube.omariOmari Brigades (Alwiyat al-Omari): The first FSA unit formed in the Daraa Governorate, the Omari Brigades are a part of the SRF and the Southern Front coalition. This group has been supplied and funded by Saudi Arabia and was one of the first operators of TOW missiles. Their main powerbase is the Lajat region in southern Syria. The brigade is named after the Omari Mosque in Daraa city, which was an important symbol for the opposition in the early days of protests. (The mosque, in turn, is named after Caliph Omar.) Social Media: Twitter;YouTube.yarmookfinalYarmouk Brigade (Liwa’ al-Yarmouk): A prominent FSA group operating in southern Syria’s Daraa and Quneitra governorates, the Yarmouk Brigade fields over 4,000 men and several tanks. They are a key component in the Southern Front coalition and their leader, Bashar al-Zoubi, is the overall leader of the Southern Front. The group recognizes the SMC, has received support from Saudi Arabia, and is equipped with TOWs. It is named after the Yarmouk river which flows through the area. Social Media: YouTube.jabhatPartisans of Islam Front (Jabhat Ansar al-Islam): An independent Islamist brigade operating against the regime across the Quneitra and Daraa governorates, Jabhat Ansar al-Islam is the most hardline Islamist group to be provided with TOWs. This group recently partook in the Quneitra offensive that saw 80% of the province seized by rebels. Social Media: YouTube.hamzaHamza Division (Forqat al-Hamza): An FSA-banner group composed of six substituent brigades that operate mostly in Inkhil, Daraa and have received TOWs. The division works under the supervision of the Daraa Military Council and receives foreign support from Western and Arab state backers. It is a member of the Southern Front coalition. Social Media: YouTube; Facebook.swordshamSword of al-Sham Brigades (Alwiyat Saif al-Sham): A group hailing originally from Damascus, the Sword of al-Sham now fights primarily in the Daraa and Quneitra governorates. They have participated in the recent rebel advances in Quneitra and were a part of the 2012 and 2013 rebel offensive into central Damascus and its suburbs to the north. A component of this group, the Ezz Brigade, has received TOWs. It is a signatory of the Southern Front coalition.Social Media: YouTube; Facebook.martyrsofislamMartyrs of Islam Brigade (Liwa’ Shuhada al-Islam): An FSA-banner group that operates in Daraya, a southern suburb of Damascus. The Martyrs of Islam Brigade is the largest group in Daraya, with most of its fighters being from the local area. It is the only rebel group that is completely under the authority of a local civilian council and operates with its approval. It has recently been vetted and supplied with TOWs despite Daraya being under a tight siege. This group is also a signatory of the Southern Front coalition. Social Media: YouTube;website.dawnofislamDawn of Islam Division (Forqat Fajr al-Islam): One of the earliest FSA groups to arise in the Daraa governorate, the Dawn of Islam Brigade recently merged with a number of smaller groups to create the Dawn of Islam Division. The division has been supplied with TOWs and is closely affiliated with the Daraa Military Council and is a signatory of the Southern Front coalition. This group is active in the ‘Uthman and Tafas districts of Daraa city as well as in Busra al-Harir in the north-east of the province. It is under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Mohammed Hassan Salama. The Dawn of Islam Division contains mostly local tribal fighters from Daraa and Quneitra. It is not to be confused with a number of other rebel brigades with similar names operating in Homs, Idlib, and Aleppo.Social Media: Facebook: YouTube.helpersSunna3Helpers of Sunnah Brigade (Liwa’ Ansar al-Sunnah): A group operating in Daraa and Quneitra that is affiliated with SRF, the Helpers of Sunnah Brigade is also a member of the Southern Front coalition. They are recipients of several TOW missiles that have been used against regime tanks and vehicles. Not to be confused with a number of groups operating throughout the region with theexact same name, many of whom espouse an extreme ideology. Social Media:YouTube.Helpers Alwiyat al-AnsarHelpers Brigades (Alwiyat al-Ansar): An FSA group, the Helpers Brigades are a founding member of SRF. This group operates in the Idlib and Hama governorates. Formed in 2012 in the southern suburbs of Ma’arat al Numan, they are led by Mithqal al-Abdullah. This group has recently been supplied with and deployed TOWs against a number of regime vehicles. Social Media:YouTube; Facebook.

Amoud Horan Brigade: An FSA-banner unit operating in Daraa and Quneitra and member of the Southern Front coalition. Like all Southern Front signatories, the Amoud Horan Brigade has called for democratic governance and a state built on human rights. Such moderate leanings are an important reason why so many groups like the Amoud Horan Brigade operating in the south have been supplied with TOWs. Important leaders include Colonel Ahmed al-Omar and Colonel Jihad Saad al-Din. The Amoud Horan Brigades participated in the recent capture of Tell Harrah. The name refers to the Horan region in southern Syria, a rocky plateau. Social Media: Facebook; YouTube.HelpersEmigrantsEmigrants and Helpers Brigade (Liwa’ Muhajireen wal Ansar): One of the earliest FSA battalions declared in the Daraa governorate, it was created and led by two military defectors, Captain Iyad Qaddour and Captain Khalid Fathallah. It is affiliated with the Daraa Military Council and is a member of the moderate Southern Front coalition. Its leaders are also affiliated with the SMC. Emigrants and Helpers Brigade have been vetted and has received TOWs. This group is not to be confused with the Chechen-led group in Aleppo, Army of Emigrants and Helpers (Jaish al-Muhajireen wal Ansar). The name refers to the original community of believers in Medina under the Prophet Muhammad. The emigrants (muhajireen) were those who emigrated from Mecca and the helpers (ansar) were natives of Medina who aided the Prophet and the emigrants. Social Media: YouTube.

onenessOne-ness Battalion of Horan (Tawhid Kata’ib Horan): An FSA-banner group based in the Horan region of southern Syria. This brigade is active in the Daraa and Quneitra governorates and is a signatory of the Southern Front coalition. The group was originally formed by Major Mohammad al-Turkmani who was later killed in battles with the regime. The One-ness Battalion of Horan has been provided with TOWs and has participated in a number of important battles in Daraa such as the recent capture of Tall Harrah. Social Media:YouTube; Facebook.1stArtillery1st Artillery Regiment: As the name signifies, this armed group operates mostly rockets, mortars, and artillery. The 1st Artillery Regiment is an FSA-banner group that is also a part of the Southern Front coalition. This group was formed by the Daraa Military Council in an effort to create functionally named military units. It is under the command of the defected Major Abd al-Latif al-Hawrani. The presence of defected officers in leading positions of many of these groups is notable since those holding extremist views would not have risen to high ranks in the Syrian army. The 1st Artillery Regiment has been supplied with TOWs and also fields a variety of other anti-tank guided missiles. Social Media:YouTube.QuenitraMC2Quneitra Military Council: An FSA coalition that operates in Quneitra. At least one substituent, the Grandsons Brigade (Liwa’ as-Sabiteen) has fielded TOW missiles. The Quneitra Military Council was once led by Brigadier General Abdul-Ilah al-Bashir who is now Chief of Staff of the SMC. The Military Council in Quneitra has played an important role in the recent advances here. Social Media: Facebook; YouTube.YouthOfSunnaYouth of Sunnah Brigade (Liwa’ Shabbah al-Sunnah): An FSA brigade in the Daraa and Quneitra governorates, the Youth of Sunnah have received TOWs and are members of the Southern Front coalition. Social Media:YouTube; Facebook.

anfalAl-Anfal Brigade: An SRF affiliate in southern Syria. Al-Anfal Brigade is also a member of the Southern Front coalition and has received TOWs. Social Media:Facebook.

1st Brigade: A Southern Front coalition member that also possesses TOWs. It is active in the Daraa governorate and is perhaps an example of the wider trend to adopt military rather than religious or symbolic nomenclature. Social Media:None known.damascusMartyrsDamascus Martyrs’ Brigades: The Damascus Martyrs’ Brigade appear to be an independent Islamist group in Daraa, Quneitra, and southern Rif Dimashq. They are also a member of the United Sham Front, a group with a limited presence in the south. The Damascus Martyrs’ Brigade have recently deployed TOWs against regime vehicles and positions in the seizure of Tell Harrah. Social Media: YouTube; Facebook; United Sham Front Facebook.

Works Cited/Recommended Reading

The Free Syrian Army – Southern Front


Transitional Phase



The collapse of the current Assad led regime will not be the end of the Syrian people’s revolution. The end of the regime will be only the start of a new and, hopefully, final phase of the people’s struggle for freedom. In order to ensure that the final phase succeeds the establishment of a new national model of governance based on respect for human dignity and a rebirth of Syria’s tremendous potential will be initiated.  It is imperative that all nationalist forces commit to a course of action during the period of transition from authoritarianism that will fulfil the popular will.


The Southern Front announces that it will dedicate its efforts during the period of transition following the collapse of the regime to supporting:

First: the protection of all Syrian citizens, their property and their rights without any distinction of religion, culture, ethnicity, or political affiliation in accordance with International Humanitarian Law and the international standards of Human Rights.

Second: the maintenance of Syrian state institutions, including all ministries and military institutions.

Third: the integrity of the economic and service infrastructure of the state, including telecommunications, energy, water, and public and private transportation networks.

Fourth: the establishment of a process of inclusive, national, political reconstruction.




1- The Civil Defence Force:

Once the Assad regime collapses, the Southern Front of the Free Syrian Army intends to transition from a military organization into a civilian defence force to contribute to establishing the appropriate conditions to enable a successful political transition in Syria. Among the primary objectives of a civilian defence force will be: protecting all citizens, maintaining all state institutions, and securing the infrastructure for the economic prosperity of the country.

The Joint Command of the Southern Front is currently preparing itself for the moment of transition and is committed to implementing a detailed day-after plan to protect Damascus (the seat of government), prevent looting, protect citizens and state employees, and ensure that governmental institutions remain fully operational.

2- The Transitional Administration:

To guide the period of transition, the Southern Front will support efforts to establish a Transitional Administration. The Southern Front believes that no current state employees, identified for their competence and loyal service to the state, should be excluded from continuing to serve. In addition, the Transitional Administration should be open to senior defected government officials who return to the country to help in its reconstruction. The Southern Front, which by this time will have transformed into the the Civil Defence Forces, will support such an interim governing arrangement granted that it is non-political, and led by technocrats whose terms will end upon the completion of the interim or transitional phase. .

The first task of the Transitional Administration will be announcing the cessation of all military operations and demanding foreign fighters to leave the country within a specified period of time. The Transitional Administration will also take steps to ensure that state institutions continue their routine work. It will announce to government officials including the judicial authority that their work will be guaranteed within the framework of the General Law. The civilian police will be requested to continue their work. The armed forces will be requested to remain temporarily in their barracks until security and order restored.

The current constitution will be immediately suspended and replaced by the original constitution of 1950 as an interim constitution until the drafting of a permanent constitution for the country that shall be approved by a popular referendum.

To ensure neutrality with respect to key decisions that need to be made during the critical transitional period, the Transitional Administration should issue an immediate appeal to the United Nations to form a “Syrian Transitional Phase Office” in Damascus as soon as possible with a special envoy of the UN Secretary General. This Office will be necessary to advise the Transitional Administration, coordinate foreign aid, and identify key requirements for the transition. It is also needed to recommend and supply experts and advisers to help rebuild the institutions of the state.

To ease the pressure on the Transitional Administration, and to benefit from the best Syrian minds and intellects in guiding the transition, the “Syrian Transitional Phase Office” will be requested to appoint a Syrian Advisory Committee composed of qualified professionals to draft a framework and plans for the transitional period, according to a specific timetable. The Office will also request the presence of a UN observer missions and specialist teams.

The key tasks for UN and the Syrian Advisory Committee will be:

First: to establish the High Electoral Commission.

Second: to oversee general elections to choose an “interim” legislative authority within six months, paving the way for the formation of a constituent committee for the drafting of the constitution.

Third: to form a constituent committee to draft the permanent constitution for the country within one year.

Fourth: to hold a public referendum on the constitution after the completion of the work of the constituent committee.

Fifth: to implement national elections for a new parliament and government.

All bodies formed by the “Syrian Transitional Phase Office” or by the Advisory Committee should be independent bodies. They should advise the Transitional Administration, but they should not be subject to it or overlap with it. The mandate of the Transitional Administration should be considered officially over after the holding of elections for a new parliament and government.

Long Live Free Syria

The Southern Front



First Lebanese Battalion in FSA After Hezbollah’s Call

15SaturdayJun 2013

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Lebanese individuals might have been involved in Syria’s war from early days. Sheikh Ahmad Al-Aseer declared Jihad and went himself there couple of months ago with his fighters too for a show-off exercise, but permanent or independent Lebanese fighting battalion are not known to be present as of yet.

Hezbollah has institutionalised the Lebanese involvement in Syria with his recent public involvement in the battle of Qusair. Hassan Nasrallah has publicly called his Lebanese opponents “to meet them in Syria to fight”. Hezbollah is part of the Lebanese state and government and obviously has a regional weight – which means Iran.

The lebanese government, which is supposed to be adopting a dissociation policy, is in coma status with no comment whatsoever. Even more, “sovereign” Michel Aoun has defended Hezbollah’s intervention on the basis they are fighting the takfirees (beyond our borders.)

Sadly, some Lebanese will meet Hezbollah’s divisive call and go to Syria. This will expand Syria’s war into a sectarian regional one, and allow the war to spread to Lebanon too without a shadow of a doubt.

Below is the video of the 29 years old Lebanese Fadi AbdulKader declaring the formation of the Free Battalion of “Ikleem el Kharoub” under the Free Syrian Army command to fight Hezbollah. If you don’t know it, Ikleem el Kharoub is a Sunni area in the mostly mixed Druze and Christian Chouf district.

In what could be the first video of its kind for a Lebanese, Fadi AbdulKader shows a copy of his Lebanese passport (which expired last month) confirming his ID and date of birth. The video is done on the style of previous videos for defections from the Syrian army. He declares he wants to defend his religion and land in both Syria and Lebanon. Funnily enough, he gives The Lebanese Republic a new name by calling it the Arab Republic of Lebanon.

Hezbollah, which always prided itself not be part of the Lebanese civil war, is now creating a Lebanese civil war on Syrian land and contributing to the Syrian civil war. Hezbollah has officially turned into a militia, and seeking other Lebanese militias on the opposite side. This can only get worse for everyone.



How to Advocate the Capitulation of a Revolution Without Actually Using the Word “Surrender”

September 8, 2012

A few days ago, the Open Democracy website published an article by “Rita from Syria”, a Damascus based Syrian activist. Titled “The FSA: how to lose support and alienate people in no time“, the writer bemoaned the growing trend towards the militarization of the initially peaceful Syrian Revolution. Civilian activists now feel increasingly insignificant and sidelined, unable to shape events. Syrian towns and villages that shelter the Free Syrian Army suffer under increasingly bloody reprisals and punitive assaults by the Assad regime. The FSA is accused of “miscalculations”, and challenged to “win back its credibility”.

The most telling sentence in the entire article is a quote from “Raghda”, a woman who recently lost her job at a publishing firm; “I just want to continue my life. I don’t see an end to this armed conflict. I agree with the rightful demands of the opposition, but if this means bringing a halt to my life then I will stand against them”

Which is as close one can get to advocating capitulation, without actually using the word “surrender”

Let us be clear on one thing; Assad cannot win this fight. He cannot defeat a guerrilla movement that has spread to nearly every single village, town and city in the county. The FSA, with little to no outside support, has managed the grind the region’s largest military into a stalemate. Whereas in Hama this time last year, twenty tanks were sufficient to bring the entire city to heel after the massive demonstrations in the Orontes Square, now those same twenty tanks are the regime’s loses on a good day.

So what’s a tin-pot dictator to do? What every tyrant on the ropes has done; go after the segment of ones opponents lest able to defend themselves. Just as Hitler desperately tried to knock the British out of World War 2 by indiscriminately pounding London with V-1 and V-2 rockets (thereby killing more civilians in England than his army managed to do on the field in the European theaters of war), the regime’s policy and actions has been to subject areas sympathetic to the FSA to the maximum amount of suffering and bloodshed as possible.

If Assad cannot beat the FSA’s soldiers in Aleppo, his airforce bombs their home towns from the air. Eventually, the logic goes, the misery of the civilian population will be so great, that they will discourage or actively deny the FSA shelter and space for movement. In the case of the recently unemployed Raghda, that seems to have worked. The only way the FSA can lose this fight is if enough of the Syrian population become convinced that the losses and suffering are too great, and the prospects for overthrowing the regime too remote.

In any war, the resilience of the societies engaged in war matters as much as the number and quality of arms those societies deploy. Long before Hitler got around to invading France in 1940, a defeatist mentality had already taken hold of much of French political society and its upper military echelons. The Battle of France had been lost long before the first German tanks broke through the Ardennes.

Rita is correct when she writes “FSA leaders should take heed that a guerrilla army can only attain success if it is mindful of its relationship to the people”. However, laying the blame at the feet of the FSA is misplaced, even if it is convenient from Rita’s point of view. No army in the world can protect every civilian center if its opponent engages in a deliberate policy of targeting those areas. It is the FSA’s job to wear down as much of the regime’s military machinery as possible, and it is the civilian opposition’s job to make sure that the regime pays, in terms of political and popular support, as a result of any disproportionate and indiscriminate retribution by the Assad army against the civilian population.

Or maybe scope of responsibilities isn’t so clear cut in the minds of the revolution’s civilian activists. To quote Rita’s article;

“Armed with a deep conviction in our revolution rather than any heavy weapons, the embryonic FSA used to keep watch in the alleys and alert us to the coming of regime forces and the shabiha.”

Alleys. Alleys and side-streets. Defectors, risking their lives by carrying arms to defend a 15 minute demonstration in some alleyway or side-street, the end result of which would be a few minutes uploaded to Youtube or some material for Al-Jazeera to stream. Amazing that the FSA waited so long and so patiently before concluding, correctly, that the regime was never going to fall through flash demonstrations in some darkened neighborhood corner. The civilian activists had plenty of time to make some tangible headway, to provide some accomplishments to justify the thousands of dead, thousands more wounded, and untold tens of thousands of disappeared and imprisoned.

A military aspect of a society only rises in prominence above that of the civilian, when the latter proves utterly incapable of meeting the challenges of the day. If the civilian activists feel sidelined, it is because in the 20 months of the revolution, they have in all honesty provided next to no tangible accomplishments on behalf of the revolution.

The Assad regime is one that has, as the most recent ICG report stated, mutated into little more than a militia. It doesn’t care for the loss of its border points with Turkey, or the loss of the areas in the north east of Syria to Kurdish control, as long as Assad’s core constituency retains power in the ever decreasing areas still under their control. Do the civilian “no arms lets turn the clock back to when we were demonstrating in the side streets” camp have ANY plan or solution to deal with such a regime? Not likely, if present perceptions of the SNC are anything to go by.

What exactly is required of the FSA? To lay down their arms? And will that turn to clock back to the days before the Dar’a protests? Anyone who thinks is is incredibly naive. A regime that triumphed through the use of terror and brute force will feel that the same formula is an acceptable one to apply to maintain power. Periodic mass arrests and show trials will be the norm. Towns and cities that were most prominent in the revolution will be neglected economically, its people cut off from government jobs. Every once in a while a staged car bomb will go off, to keep people on edge and remind them of the ever present danger of a return to the “bad old days” if the regime wasn’t around to “maintain stability”. And in thirty years’ time, little Hafiz will take the reins of power. But hey, at least Raghda got to “live her life”.

Which is the part of the article I personally find most disgusting and reprehensible. Saying that one is for the revolution as long as it doesn’t get in the way of one’s work, career, dates, love-life, TV-shows, is akin to saying that one would like to compete in the Olympics, if it wasn’t for all the hard training required.

Yep, I’d like to buy a house, if it wasn’t for the mortgage payments needed.

I’d like to go to Harvard to study medicine, but damn those SATs and entrance exams are a real roadblock.

I’d looooove to live in a democracy, as long as someone else is doing the heavy lifting and suffering, and a civil and free society is handed to me on a silver plater. Oh, and someone else can vote for me and keep the vigilance and sense of civic responsibility required to maintain any democracy.

One would have thought that the revolution would have at least freed us from the idea that we are entitled to the best the world has to offer without the need to put in any effort. Sadly, we are not all Al-Assads and get to inherit a country from our daddies. To say that one is against the revolution because it has gotten in the way of our lives, is tantamount to surrender. Our will has been broken, the price has become too high to pay. Brute force and tyranny have won, and just as long as the tyrants leave us to return to our miserable existence, we will soon forget the more than 20,000 Syrians whose lives were cut short, or the thousands of wounded and crippled, or the hundreds of thousands of refugees for whom returning will never be an option. People for whom carrying on with their “interrupted” lives is not an option.

If the civilian activists feel impotent, it is because for many months they acted like they were impotent, with only the FSA between them and annihilation at the hands of Assad’s shabihas. For how long was the FSA expected to carry and babysit an ineffectual civilian movement. No one wants to turn to arms as a first choice, but the Syrian Revolution found itself doing so as a result of the situation forced on it. For over a month, Baba Amr in Homs was subjected to massive artillery and tank assaults. The world community yawned a collective yawn and changed the channel. Were it not for the FSA, non of the 24,000 civilians who made it out, or the well known media personalities and foreign journalists trapped inside, would have come out of there.

If the civilian activists want to regain leadership of the revolution, then it is about time they did something to earn the mantle of leadership. The British did not whine and blame Churchill for the destruction wrought by Hitler’s bombers on their cities, and as a result their “finest hour” has become the stuff of legend.

The only way Assad can win this war is if we hand him victory. I myself spent ten days on the edges of Baba Amr while the army pounded the area. My close family has lost two homes, completely destroyed in the fighting. I have relatives who were and are imprisoned. Several distant family members were lost to us. I know full well the burden of taking on a vicious, unrestrained and barbaric regime. If the civilian activists have a better way than the one the FSA is pursuing, no one will be happier than me to hear it.

Otherwise, talk of the FSA laying down its arms is just a not-too-thinly-veiled plea by those whose will have been broken, for the revolution to surrender. I don’t judge people harshly if they feel they cannot carry the burden anymore, everyone has their own circumstances and pain-threshold. But I at least expect them to have the self-respect and decency to call what they are asking for by its proper name; capitulation and surrender to the Assad tyranny. 


Attack against Syrian regime forces


ANA: #Eastern Ghouta #Damascus #Syria: video that clearly shows when Syrian regime forces have been attacked by…


It is interesting to note that behind the tank (either a T-62 or T-72) there is a rather improvised looking armoured car and a motley collection of other vehicles, accompanied by infantry. The whole thing is witness to the top-heavy nature of the regime’s forces – an impressive collection of heavy armour and weapons backed up by a very underdeveloped logistics and transport system – how often have we seen soldiers transported in buses, vans or open top trucks.

The whole thing gives the impression of a military purchasing policy designed to please militarily ignorant political leaders who take delight in owning and watching vast quantities of impressive fighting hardware without understanding that these need to be backed up by a well-developed transport & supply system.

This top-heaviness of the regime forces is undoubtedly proving a considerable weakness in the regime’s struggle against an opposition which has made the disruption of the regime’s supply lines through ambushes and IED attacks a major part of its strategy.

The impressive hardware requires a huge and efficient logistics network to supply & maintain it. As the opposition steps up its attacks on the regime’s supply lines weapons such as tanks will tend to become increasingly immobile and ineffective for lack of spare parts, fuel, ammunition and transporters. Troops will become increasingly pinned down in static positions because their transport vehicles are very vulnerable to attack.

The regime has increasingly had recourse to air-power, but helicopters and warplanes are fuel and maintenance hungry and if the logistics system is inadequate an increasing number will become grounded for longer and longer periods as they wait for repairs or fuel.

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