||It has been suggested that this article be merged into National Defense Force (Syria). (Discuss) Proposed since January 2014.|
|Participant in Syrian civil war|
|Active||2012 - present|
|Strength||100,000 (September 2012)|
|Allies|| Syrian Armed Forces
|Opponents|| Free Syrian Army
Al-Jaysh al-Sha'bi (Arabic: الجيش الشعبي al-Jaysh ash-Sha'bī, People's Army) is a militia in Syria that supports the government of President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian civil war. According to the United States, it operates under the control of the Syrian government. It is made up mostly of civilian volunteers and was created out of the various government loyalist militias in Syria. The vast majority of its members are Alawis and Shias.
The first part of the Arabic name is romanized as either Jaysh or Jaish and the second part as Sha'bi, Sha'abi, Shaabi or Shabi. Al- is normally put before both words.
The force has also been referred to as the "Popular Army", "People's Army", "National Defense Force" (NDF) and "National Defense Army" (NDA). However, it is unclear whether al-Jaysh al-Sha'bi and the NDF/NDA is the same organization.
The Syrian Ba'ath Party has used paramilitary forces since taking power in 1963, its institutional paramilitaries was named "Jaysh al-Sha‘bi" by the mid-1980s, and included an estimated 100,000 members as of 2011.
According to the US, al-Jaysh al-Sha'bi was created and is maintained by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards(IRGC)-Quds Force and the Shia Islamic militant group Hezbollah, who provide it with money, weapons, equipment and training. In September 2012 IRGC commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari said it the militia has 50,000 members, was modeled after the Iranian Basij militia and a Hezbollah fighter from Beirut said that Hezbollah was helping it with strategy. adding that although Iran and Hezbollah's main goal is to support the Syrian government, they plan to use aal-Jaysh al-Sha'bi to "preserve their interests" if the government falls. In December 2012, the U.S. Department of the Treasury sanctioned al-Jaysh al-Sha'bi pursuant to Executive Order 13582, which blocks the property of the Syrian government.
Al-Jaysh al-Sha'bi has conducted operations against the rebels, both alone and with the Syrian Army and security forces. It is especially active in Damascus, Aleppo, Homs and Hama. A Homs native described militia members as reporting to local leaders who co-ordinate with the Syrian Army and security forces. Much of the militia's equipment is from the Syrian Army, and it includes heavy weaponry such as tanks and artillery. A resident of Latakia said that militia members "get security IDs or assignment papers so they don't get stopped or searched at checkpoints".
On 21 January 2013, a rebel car bomb exploded outside a building used by al-Jaysh al-Sha'bi in Al-Salamiyah. A Syrian opposition group claimed that 30 militiamen and a number of civilians were killed.
- Syria - National Defence Forces (NDF)
- Iranian Strategy in Syria, Institute for the Study of War, Executive Summary + Full report, May 2013
- "Treasury Sanctions Al-Nusrah Front Leaders, Militia Groups in Syria". usembassy.gov. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
- "Iran and Hezbollah build militia networks in Syria, officials say". The Guardian, 12 February 2013.
- "Pro-Assad militia now key to Syrian government’s war strategy". Miami Herald, 19 February 2013.
- "Iran helps Syria build paramilitary force". The Australian, 22 January 2013. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
- "U.S. blacklists al-Nusra Front fighters in Syria". CNN. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
- "US designates Syria''s Al-Nusrah Front, its leadership, militias supporting Assad regime". KUNA. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
- "More than 30 Syrians killed in Hama suicide blast: Activists". The Daily Star (Lebanon), 21 January 2013.