Army of Mujahideen

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People of the Levant Front
جبهة أهل الشام
Jabhat Ahl al-Sham

Participant in the Syrian Civil War
Former logo of the Army of Mujahideen
Former logo of the Army of Mujahideen
Active 2 January 2014 – 25 January 2017[1] (Army of Mujahideen)
December 2016 – 25 January 2017 (Jabhat Ahl al-Sham)
Ideology

Sunni Islamism[2]

Leaders
  • Lt. Col. Muhammad Abdel Qader Bakur[3]
  • Capt. Muhammad Shakerdi[4]
  • Salim Abu Jaafar[5]
  • Hammoud al-Barm [6]
Area of operations Aleppo Governorate, Syria
Size

5,000+[7]–12,000[8] (own claim, 2014)
4,000 (own claim, May 2016)[9]

8,000[10] (December 2016, Russian military claim)
Part of
Allies
Opponents
Battles and wars

Syrian Civil War

Army of Mujahideen (Arabic: جيش المجاهدين‎‎, Jaysh al-Mujahideen), from December 2016, Jabhat Ahl al-Sham (Arabic: جبهة أهل الشام‎‎; People of the Levant Front), was a coalition of Sunni Islamist rebel groups which formed in order to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) during the Syrian Civil War.[17] The group accused ISIL of disrupting "security and stability" in areas that had been captured from the Syrian government.[18] The spokesperson of the coalition said it would start operations in Idlib and Aleppo and gradually expand towards the rest of Syria.[1]

Ideology[edit]

The Army of Mujahideen did not have a political program. Although the member groups have an Islamist identity, they were largely non-ideological Free Syrian Army affiliated groups formed earlier in the Syrian Civil War.[19] However, the group was also described as having took a "hardline approach", with its member group Division 19 having "hid behind a mask of secularism". During the conflict with ISIL, the Army of Mujahideen stated that "the mujahideen of al-Nusra Front are our brothers" and called on foreign fighters of ISIL to "defect and join the ranks of their brothers, the honest mujahideen garrisoned at the Syrian border against the Alawite Assad regime."[20]

In March 2014, the Army of Mujahideen stopped Marcell Shehwaro, a Syrian Christian opposition activist, and demanded her to wear a hijab. She refused and was arrested, taken to a Sharia kangaroo court, and forced to sign an agreement pledging to wear the hijab. The leadership of the group issued a statement apologizing for its fighters' violent actions, but still demanded Shehwaro to wear a hijab.[21]

History[edit]

The factions which formed the Army of Mujahideen largely emerged from the villages and towns of the Aleppo hinterland.[19][22] The three groups at the core of the alliance were Division 19, the Fastaqim Union and the Nour al-Din al-Zanki Islamic Brigades, which was also then part of the Authenticity and Development Front.[19]

On 4 May 2014, the Army of Mujahideen announced the withdrawal of the Nour al-Din al-Zanki Islamic Brigades from the coalition.[23] On 3 June 2014, the Army of Mujahideen announced the expulsion of Division 19's Ansar Brigade and its leader, Abu Bakr, accusing them of theft and kidnapping.[24]

Charles Lister, of the Brookings Doha Center, described the Army of Mujahideen as being a shadow of its former self by August 2014, partially due to a reduction in support it had received from foreign states.[25] Fastaqim Kama Umirt left the group around December 2014.[13]

In September 2014, the United States began planning weapon supplies to the group,[26] and in the same month, fifty of the group's fighters were given military training in Qatar and supplied with BGM-71 TOW anti-tank missiles in a covert CIA program.[27]

On 6 May 2015, it, along with 13 other Aleppo-based groups, joined the Fatah Halab joint operations room.[14]

It announced its support to Turkey against the Kurdistan Workers Party. It also fights the Syrian Democratic Forces in Aleppo.[28]

Several factions of the group, including the al-Noor Islamic Movement, the Amjad al-Islam Brigade, and the al-Quds Brigades left to join the Revolutionaries of the Levant Battalions in April 2015.[29]

In December 2016, the Army of Mujahideen re-merged with Thuwar al-Sham Battalion and the Banner of Islam Movement to form Jabhat Ahl al-Sham.[30]

On 23 January 2017, the al-Nusra Front attacked Jabhat Ahl al-Sham bases in Atarib and other towns in western Aleppo. All the bases were captured and by 24 January, the group was defeated and joined Ahrar al-Sham.[15]

Member groups[edit]

  • Army of Mujahideen
    • 19th Division
      • Ansar Brigade
      • Supporters of the Caliphate Brigade
      • Khan al-Asal Free Brigades
      • Ash-Shuyukh Brigade
      • Muhajireen Brigade[4]
    • Battalion of the Martyr Muhammad Sha'ban[31][32]
    • Farouq Battalion
    • 5th Battalion
    • Revolutionaries of Atarib Gathering
    • Atarib Martyrs Brigade
    • Battalion of the Martyr Alaa al-Ahmad
    • Central Force for the City of Atarib
    • Ansar al-Haqq Battalion
    • Loyalty to God Battalion
    • Shells of Justice Brigade
  • Banners of Islam Movement
  • Levant Revolutionaries Battalion
    • al-Quds Brigades
    • Glory of Islam Brigade
    • al-Noor Islamic Movement

Former members[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Syrian Opposition Builds Army Against Assad, Al-Qaeda". Anadolu Agency. 3 January 2014. Retrieved 8 January 2014. 
  2. ^ "Syria opposition says it backs rebel fight against al-Qaeda". Al Arabiya News. 4 January 2014. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  3. ^ "Commander of "Army of Mujahideen": "Fatah al-Sham" stormed my house and confiscated my property". Enab Baladi. 27 January 2017. 
  4. ^ a b "Syria: Army of the Mujahideen Challenges ISIS Gains". Al Akhbar. 6 January 2014. Retrieved 9 January 2014. 
  5. ^ "The lead in front of the people of Syria shows for "Qassioun" nature of the initiative to unite the factions in northern Syria". Qasioun. 28 December 2016. 
  6. ^ Fadel, Leith (18 July 2016). "Jihadist rebels mourn the loss of 16 fighters as government forces advance in Aleppo City". 
  7. ^ "Pushing Back Against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant: The Syria Revolutionaries’ Front and the Mujahideen Army". Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. 7 January 2014. Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  8. ^ "Al Qaida rebels leave mass grave behind as they desert base in Syria". McClatchy. 6 January 2014. Retrieved 8 January 2014. 
  9. ^ "Leadership in the Army of the Mujahideen's (RFS) after the recent merger: the unification of the floor and arms Our goal". RFS Media Office. 22 May 2016. 
  10. ^ "List of armed formations, which joined the ceasefire in the Syrian Arab Republic on December 30, 2016". Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation. 30 December 2016. 
  11. ^ "Translation: the Formation of the Syrian Revolutionary Command Council". Goha's Nail. 3 August 2014. Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
  12. ^ "Syrian Civil War factions". 
  13. ^ a b "The Levant Front: Can Aleppo’s Rebels Unite?". Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. 26 December 2014. Retrieved 26 December 2014. 
  14. ^ a b "Zulfikarr comments on "Aleppo operations room" announcing the preparation for "the great battle" with 14 rebel groups". reddit. 
  15. ^ a b "Mujahideen Army announces joining Freedom Movement Sham". Qasioun News Agency. 24 January 2017. 
  16. ^ "Syria rebels unite and launch new revolt, against jihadists". AFP. 4 January 2014. Retrieved 28 April 2014. 
  17. ^ "Qaeda-Linked Insurgents Clash With Other Rebels in Syria, as Schism Grows". New York Times. 3 January 2014. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  18. ^ "Syrian rebels launch fierce offensive against al Qaeda fighters". Reuters. 4 January 2014. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  19. ^ a b c "The Mujahedeen Army of Aleppo". Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. 8 April 2014. Retrieved 12 May 2014. 
  20. ^ Suhaib Anjarini (29 March 2014). "The moderate rebels: A needle in a haystack". Al-Akhbar. 
  21. ^ Edward Dark (25 March 2014). "Syria's Islamist rebels force Christian activist to wear veil". Al-Monitor. 
  22. ^ "Factbox: Syrian rebels against opposition coalition". Reuters. 25 September 2013. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  23. ^ "Jeish al-Mujahideen Charter – Comment and Translation". Goha's Nail. 4 May 2014. Retrieved 30 May 2014. 
  24. ^ "جيش المجاهدين يعلن في بيان له فصل لواء الأنصار وعزل قائده المقدم أبو بكر عن قيادته بسبب "تورطه في بقضايا سرقات وخطف وتهريب سجناء من داعش". 3-6-2014". mojez.com. 
  25. ^ "As ISIS closes in, is it game over for Syria's opposition in Aleppo?". CNN. 15 August 2014. Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
  26. ^ "After A Long Wait, Syrian Rebels Hope The Weapons Will Now Flow". NPR. 17 September 2014. Retrieved 17 September 2014. 
  27. ^ "Facing Islamic State in Syria, U.S.-trained rebels await more help". Reuters. 1 December 2014. Retrieved 9 February 2015. The 50 fighters were the first from their group to attend the training in Qatar, part of an ostensibly covert CIA program to offer military support to vetted factions in opposition to President Bashar al-Assad 
  28. ^ "Ibn Nabih". Twitter. 
  29. ^ "The Moderate Rebels: A Growing List of Vetted Groups Fielding BGM-71 TOW Anti-Tank Guided Missiles". Retrieved 19 October 2015. 
  30. ^ "Syrian Rebel Mergers: A Harakat Nour Al-Din Al-Zinki Perspective". Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi. 7 January 2017. 
  31. ^ "Ten brigades and battalions of the FSA join Jaysh al Mujahideen • /r/syriancivilwar". 
  32. ^ Chris Tomson AlMasdar (23 May 2016). "Free Syrian Army factions in northern Aleppo merge to Jaish al-Mujahideen" – via YouTube.