فيلق الرحمنParticipant in the Syrian Civil War
Official logo of the al-Rahman Legion
Alternate logo of the Rahman Legion
|Area of operations|
|Size||2,000 (2015) - +3,000 (2015) - 8,000 (2018) - 9,000 (2018)|
|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. The group's leader is Abdul al-Nasr Shamir, a captain from rural Homs who defected from the Syrian Army in early 2012. The Legion has been described as an "Islamist" or as a non-jihadi/non-Salafi "political Islamist" 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. In 2016, it was described as "one of the oldest standing opposition factions in Damascus and maintains high levels of local legitimacy and support."
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. 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.
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.
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. However, it left some time later.[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.
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. 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. 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.
From April 2017, heavy clashes restarted between Jaysh al-Islam and the Rahman Legion, backed by Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). More than 95 rebels from both sides were killed, among them a captain of the Rahman Legion. On 2 May, Colonel Abu Muhammad al-Kurdi of the Rahman Legion defected to Jaysh al-Islam.
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.
In July 2017, increasing tensions were reported between the Legion and its former ally HTS in eastern Ghouta. On 6 August 2017, 120 Ahrar al-Sham fighters in Arbin defected to the Rahman Legion after internal disputes. 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. Tahrir al-Sham reportedly sided with Ahrar al-Sham against the Rahman Legion during the clashes. A ceasefire agreement between the Rahman Legion and Ahrar al-Sham was implemented on 9 August.
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. However, in September 2017, there were reports of clashes between the Legion and government forces in Jobar.
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. 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. A convoy of more than 5,400 rebel fighters and civilians departed the pocket on 25 March, reaching northwestern Syria the next day.
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