Al-Rahman Legion

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Al-Rahman Legion
فيلق الرحمن
Faylaq al-Rahman
Participant in the Syrian Civil War
Faylaq al-Rahman.png
Official logo of the al-Rahman Legion
Al-Rahman Corps calligraphy.jpg
Alternate logo of the Rahman Legion
ActiveNovember 2013–present[1]
IdeologyIslamism[1]
Group(s)
Leaders
  • Capt. Abdul Nasr Shamir (a.k.a. Abu Nasr, commander in chief)[1]
  • Abu Ali Dhiya al-Shaghouri  (chief of staff)[7]
  • Mutasim Shamir (political bureau leader)[8]
  • Capt. Samer Salah (Abu Najib) [9][better source needed]
  • Wael Alwan (spokesman)[10]
Area of operations
Size2,000 (2015)[12] - +3,000 (2015)[1] - 8,000 (2018)[13] - 9,000 (2018)[14]
Part of
Allies
Opponent(s)
Battles and war(s)Syrian Civil War

The al-Rahman Legion (Arabic: فيلق الرحمن‎, Faylaq al-Raḥmān), also called the al-Rahman Corps, is a Syrian rebel group affiliated with the Free Syrian Army that operated in Eastern Ghouta, in the outskirts of Damascus, but also in the eastern Qalamoun Mountains. It was the main rebel group in Jobar.[22] The group's leader is Abdul al-Nasr Shamir, a captain from rural Homs who defected from the Syrian Army in early 2012.[23][1] The Legion has been described as an "Islamist"[1] or as a non-jihadi/non-Salafi "political Islamist"[24] organisation. It describes itself as "a revolutionary military entity aiming for the downfall of the Syrian regime," but does not seek to turn Syria into an Islamic state.[25] In 2016, it was described as "one of the oldest standing opposition factions in Damascus and maintains high levels of local legitimacy and support."[24]

History[edit]

The al-Rahman Legion was part of the Unified Military Command of Eastern Ghouta, established in 2014, along with Jaysh al-Islam (led by Zahran Alloush) and Ahrar al-Sham.[23] Al-Rahman Legion and Jaysh al-Islam were allied in the Rif Dimashq offensive (September 2015), or the battle of "Allah al-Ghalib", around Tall Kurdi, Adra, and Harasta in Eastern Ghouta. However, after Alloush's death in late 2015 there were conflicts between Jaysh al-Islam and al-Rahman; Ahrar ash-Sham remained neutral.[26][27][28][29]

On 18 February 2016, Ajnad al-Sham Islamic Union fighters based in eastern Ghouta announced the "full incorporation" of its fighters into al-Rahman Legion, though reiterating that its fighters based in the western Damascus suburbs of Darayya and Moadammiyyeh as well as in southern Damascus would still operate under the Ajnad al-Sham Islamic Union banner and were not a part of this merger.[30]

From 18 April until 24 May 2016, the Legion was involved in heavy clashes with rival rebel faction Jaysh al-Islam, while also fighting against government forces in the Rif Dimashq offensive (April–May 2016). On 26 April 2016, the 1st Brigade of Damascus (then an FSA-affiliated group armed with BGM-71 TOW missiles) left the Southern Front and joined the Legion.[31][32][33] However, it left some time later.[34][35][36][better source needed]

On 24 May 2016, leaders of Jaysh al-Islam and al-Rahman Legion met to sign a Qatari-backed deal to end hostilities after the East Ghouta inter-rebel conflict (April–May 2016), supervised by Riyad Farid Hijab. On 14 June 2016, clashes erupted again, with the al-Rahman Legion taking control of several zones previously held by Jaysh al-Islam in the southern part of Eastern Ghouta.[18]

In late July 2016, the al-Nusra Front clashed with the al-Rahman Legion in Zamalka, Markaz Rif Dimashq District over a dispute about Friday prayers in one of the mosques of Zamalka town.[19] In this period, the Legion was among the combatants in the Rif Dimashq offensive (June–October 2016).

On 21 October 2016, fighters from the al-Rahman Legion opened fire on protesters demanding the formation of a joint military operations room between Jaysh al-Islam and the Rahman Legion. Up to 5,000 people attended the protests throughout eastern Ghouta.[37] Less than a week later, the Glory Brigades seceded from the Rahman Legion, making it the 9th rebel group to leave the legion since the start of the war. Previously several of these groups have seceded in order to join the Ajnad al-Sham Islamic Union and the now defunct Jaysh al-Ummah.[38][39]

In February 2017, the head of the Rahman Legion's political council, Mutasim Shamir, attended peace talks in Geneva.[8]

Between February and May 2017, the Legion was targeted by the government's Qaboun offensive. In March 2017, the Legion clashed with government forces in Jobar.[40]

From April 2017, heavy clashes restarted between Jaysh al-Islam and the Rahman Legion, backed by Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).[41] More than 95 rebels from both sides were killed,[41][42] among them a captain of the Rahman Legion.[citation needed] On 2 May, Colonel Abu Muhammad al-Kurdi of the Rahman Legion defected to Jaysh al-Islam.[citation needed]

On 8 May 2017, the Glory Brigades rejoined the Rahman Legion after the latter surrounded the former's headquarters in Hamouriyah for 2 days.[43][better source needed]

In June, government forces started an offensive against the Legion in Jobar, which lasted until mid-August. Government sources claimed 400 rebels were killed during the first month of the offensive.[44]

In July 2017, increasing tensions were reported between the Legion and its former ally HTS in eastern Ghouta.[45] On 6 August 2017, 120 Ahrar al-Sham fighters in Arbin defected to the Rahman Legion after internal disputes.[46] Ahrar al-Sham accused the Rahman Legion of seizing their weapons, while the Rahman Legion accused Ahrar al-Sham of their attempt to implement their "failed" experience from northern Syria in eastern Ghouta.[47] Tahrir al-Sham reportedly sided with Ahrar al-Sham against the Rahman Legion during the clashes.[20] A ceasefire agreement between the Rahman Legion and Ahrar al-Sham was implemented on 9 August.[48]

In August 2017 in Geneva, the Legion signed a deal with Russia to join the de-escalation area in eastern Ghouta, brokered by Russia, Turkey and Iran.[49] However, in September 2017, there were reports of clashes between the Legion and government forces in Jobar.[50]

The Legion was involved, alongside Ahrar al-Sham, in the Battle of Harasta, November 2017-January 2018.

In February 2018, government forces launched a large-scale offensive to recapture eastern Ghouta from rebel groups, including the Rahman Legion. By March, the rebel pocket in eastern Ghouta was split into three, with the southern pocket of Hamouriyah being controlled by the Legion. Al-Rahman fighters withdrew from Hamouriyah to Ein Tarma by 15 March.[51] On 23 March, the Legion reached a surrender agreement with Russia, and began to evacuate its fighters and their families from Zamalka, Arbin, Ein Tarma, and Jobar the next day.[52] A convoy of more than 5,400 rebel fighters and civilians departed the pocket on 25 March, reaching northwestern Syria the next day.[53]

External support[edit]

Al-Rahman Legion is supported by Qatar.[54] Qatari-backed Al-Rahman Legion has been fighting Saudi Arabian-backed Jaysh al-Islam.[55]

The group is actively using American BGM-71 TOW anti-tank missiles.[56]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Nicholas A. Heras (June 30, 2015). "Beating on Assad's door: Syrian militia fighter Abd al-Nasr Shmeir (Militant Leadership Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 6)". Jamestown Foundation. Archived from the original on 2013-04-09. Retrieved April 19, 2016.
  2. ^ a b JOŠKO BARIĆ (30 April 2017). "Faylaq al-Rahman's decline in East Ghouta". Syrian War Daily.
  3. ^ "Al-Majd Brigades: to make the dreams of Syrian people true - Revolutionary Forces of Syria media office". 27 October 2016.
  4. ^ Cassman, Daniel. "Syria - Mapping Militant Organizations". web.stanford.edu.
  5. ^ hasanmustafas (8 May 2015). "The Moderate Rebels: A Growing List of Vetted Groups Fielding BGM-71 TOW Anti-Tank Guided Missiles".
  6. ^ Syrian War Daily (Wordpress blog), 11 December 2017
  7. ^ Leith Abou Fadel (9 March 2018). "High ranking rebel commander killed in East Ghouta". Al-Masdar News.
  8. ^ a b "Syria rebel group fights in Damascus, talks in Geneva". AFP. 24 March 2017.
  9. ^ Leith Fadel (2 May 2017). "High ranking rebel commander killed by infighting in East Ghouta". Al-Masdar News.
  10. ^ "Wael Alwan to "Syria Call": We blew up an advanced tunnel for the forces of the Syrian regime in the countryside of Damascus". Syria Call. 26 December 2017.
  11. ^ Syria’s civil war has been raging for 7 years. What’s behind it?, NBC, 22 February 2018
  12. ^ "Who are these 70,000 Syrian fighters David Cameron is relying on?". The Guardian. 30 November 2015. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
  13. ^ Press, The Associated (28 February 2018). "Thousands of Well-Armed Rebel Fighters Are in Syria's Ghouta" – via NYTimes.com.
  14. ^ Explainer: Who's fighting whom in Syria's Ghouta?, BBC Monitoring, 22 February 2018
  15. ^ a b syriaanalyst, Author (12 May 2017). "Update: Rebel Infighting in East Ghouta". Skylight Syria blog.
  16. ^ "Faylaq al Rahman fights against ISIS in Damascus and the surrounding countryside, including arresting alleged ISIS groups and ISIS sympathizers. On May 10, 2015 it signed a statement pledging to clear Eastern Ghouta of all ISIS militants." Jennifer Cafarella and Genevieve Casagrande, Syrian Armed Opposition Powerbrokers, Middle East Security Report 29, March 2016, Institute for the Study of War, citing Abu Abdullah Al Hourani “Faylaq Al Rahman launches attacks on factions in Ghouta after failure to pledge to Islamic StateZaman Al Wasl, January 29, 2015
  17. ^ Rebel allies fight each other in east Damascus: monitor NOW News, 1 March 2016
  18. ^ a b Army of Islam Urges Al-Rahman Legion to End its Attack on East Ghouta Enab Baladi, June 16, 2016
  19. ^ a b "Fight in mosque at Zamalka between Sheikhs of Jabhat Al-Nusra and Rahman Corps about who will ascend to the Minbar". Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. 23 July 2016.
  20. ^ a b "The Free Syrian Army condemns the attack on its headquarters in the eastern Ghouta". Al-Quds al-Arabi. 8 August 2017.
  21. ^ "Rebels take on ISIS in new Damascus front". The Daily Star. 17 April 2015. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  22. ^ "The Moderate Rebels: A Growing List Of Vetted Groups Fielding Bgm-71 Tow Anti-Tank Guided Missiles". Hasan Mustafas. 8 May 2015.
  23. ^ a b Oweis, Khaled Yacoub ; Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik -SWP- Deutsches Institut für Internationale Politik und Sicherheit (Ed.): Backbone of the Syrian revolt: inclusion of rural Sunnis key for international efforts to end conflict. Berlin, 2015 (SWP Comments 39/2015). URN: http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0168-ssoar-442697
  24. ^ a b Jennifer Cafarella and Genevieve Casagrande, Syrian Armed Opposition Powerbrokers, Middle East Security Report 29, March 2016, Institute for the Study of War
  25. ^ Which rebel groups are fighting in Syria's eastern Ghouta?, Deutsche Welle, 20.02.2018
  26. ^ "Is Jabhat al-Nusra behind Ghouta demonstrations? - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East". Al-Monitor. Archived from the original on 2016-06-24. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
  27. ^ Aron Lund. "After Zahran: Rising Tension in the East Ghouta". Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
  28. ^ "Rebel allies fight each other in east Damascus: monitor". 1 March 2016. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
  29. ^ Albin Szakola (30 March 2016). "Rebel heavyweights clash outside Damascus". Retrieved 4 May 2016.
  30. ^ Albin Szakola (19 February 2016). "Damascus rebels merge amid Jaysh al-Islam "intimidation"". Retrieved 11 April 2016.
  31. ^ بيان اندماج اللواء الأول العامل في دمشق مع فيلق الرحمن بسلاحه وعتاده الكامل. - YouTube. 26 April 2016. Retrieved 4 May 2016 – via YouTube.
  32. ^ "English Statement: First Brigade in Damascus has fully merged with al-Rahman Corps". Beyond The Levant Agency. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
  33. ^ "The Moderate Rebels: A Complete and Growing List of Vetted Groups". Democratic Revolution, Syrian Style. 21 October 2014. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  34. ^ "Rebel Infighting in East Ghouta: Map and Analysis". Skylight Syria. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  35. ^ "1st Brigade of Damascus on Facebook". Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  36. ^ Fadel, Leith (18 March 2017). "Syrian Army captures rebel HQ in east Damascus amid latest advance". Al-Masdar. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  37. ^ "Eastern Ghouta residents protest against rebels' rifts, demand unity". Zamanalwsl. 21 October 2016.
  38. ^ @Syria_Rebel_Obs (25 October 2016). "EXCLUSIVE INFOGRAPHIC - How Faylaq ar-Rahman slowly disappearing in E-#Ghouta" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  39. ^ "Al-Majd Brigades: to make the dreams of Syrian people true". Revolutionary Forces of Syria media office. 27 October 2016.
  40. ^ The Business of Smuggling Supplies in Besieged Eastern Ghouta, Syria Deeply, April 25, 2017
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  49. ^ Syria: Faylaq Al-Rahman Joins Ghouta Truce Asharq Al-Awsat, 19 August 2017
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  52. ^ Bassem Mroue (24 March 2018). "Hundreds gather to leave second pocket in Syria's Ghouta". Associated Press.
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External links[edit]