Division 30

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30th Infantry Division
Arabic: الفرقة 30 مشاة
Participant in Syrian Civil War
30th Division (Syrian rebel group) Logo.jpg
Logo of the Division 30, which is identical to the logo of the New Syrian Army
ActiveMay—November 2015 (largely defunct)
Leaders
  • Lt. Col. Mohammad al-Dhaher
  • Capt. Ammar al-Wawi[1]
  • Col. Nadim al-Hassam (POW)
  • Anas Ibrahim Obaid
HeadquartersMaryamin, Afrin and Mare', Aleppo Governorate
Area of operationsAleppo Governorate
Size
  • >54 (July—September 2015)[2][3]
  • 4–5 (after September 2015)[4]
Part ofSyrian opposition Free Syrian Army
Allies
Opponent(s)

The 30th Infantry Division (Arabic: الفرقة 30 مشاة‎), commonly referred to as Division 30, also called the New Syrian Forces, was a Syrian rebel group formed by the United States. It was formed in mid-2015 during the Syrian Civil War with a specified purpose of fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in northwestern Syria.

History[edit]

First units[edit]

Before the training program started, about 400 Syrian rebel fighters travelled to the border with Turkey hoping to join the program. Many of them failed to join the program.[5] On May 7, 2015, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said that nearly 90 fighters had begun their training, and a second group would begin training in the next few weeks. The vetted fighters were being trained to fight the ISIL rather than the Syrian Armed Forces.[6][7] Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan opened training sites for the program.[8]

On July 12, 2015, 54 fighters from the first graduates of the program, commanded by an ethnic Syrian Turkmen colonel who had defected from the Syrian army, crossed from Turkey to Syria in a convoy of 30 pickup trucks, according to Turkish news media. They would be able to call in US airstrikes against ISIL.[9] Each fighter that graduated was given a M-16 rifle, $400 US dollars, and 400 Turkish liras.[2] On July 28, 2015, leader Nadim al-Hassan and an unspecified number of companions were allegedly abducted by members of the al-Nusra Front while returning from a meeting in Azaz. In a public statement, the group called for their release.[10]

In August 2015, the first group of Division 30 rebels set up a headquarters in Syria, which was attacked and captured by the al-Nusra front, the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria who kidnapped a number of their members. Later on, following the al-Nusra attack, Assad government warplanes bombed[11] the headquarters causing most remaining members to flee to join other rebel groups.[12]

According to Syrian sources, the 75 fighters newly trained in a camp near the Turkish capital crossed through the Bab al-Salama border crossing and entered the Aleppo Governorate, heading to the town of Tell Rifaat, while others went to support the Mountain Hawks Brigade. The group entered in a convoy of a dozen cars with light weapons and ammunition, under air cover from the US-led coalition.[13]

Second units[edit]

In September 2015, a second group of Division 30 rebels, consisting of 75 fighters with 12 Toyota pick-up trucks, medium machine guns and ammunition crossed the Syrian-Turkish border and was stopped and captured by the Levant Front.[14] They ended up giving up much of their weaponry and ammunition to the al-Nusra Front in order to secure passage farther into Syria.[15][16]

By the end of September 2015, General Lloyd Austin, head of US Central Command, said the remaining members of Division 30 were limited in number, "We're talking four or five". Division 30's current whereabouts are unknown after they allegedly stopped receiving funding and supplies from the U.S.[4]

On 17 November 2015, several members of Division 30 appeared in the announcement video of the Syrian Democratic Forces in the Aleppo and northern Idlib governorates alongside other members of the Army of Revolutionaries and the YPG.[17] However, the Division 30 leadership denied the group as a whole joining the SDF.[18]

In December 2015, some fighters from the "New Syrian Forces" based in Mare' and trained by the US have joined the al-Mu'tasim Brigade, another FSA group in northern Aleppo trained and equipped by the US Department of Defense.[19]

In May 2016, al-Nusra Front released a statement claiming that they have released 7 Division 30 fighters while the commander and the rest of the group are still in custody.[20]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Syria conflict: US fighter plan criticised by key rebel". BBC. 6 August 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Syrian rebel group leaves their HQ after clash with al-Qaida". AP. 1 August 2015.
  3. ^ "Rivals of ISIS Attack U.S.-Backed Syrian Rebel Group". New York Times. July 31, 2015. Retrieved October 12, 2015.
  4. ^ a b Bulos, Nabih (September 22, 2015). "US-trained Division 30 rebels 'betray US and hand weapons over to al-Qaeda's affiliate in Syria'". The Telegraph. Retrieved September 23, 2015.
  5. ^ Ryan, Missy; Miller, Greg (July 2, 2015). "U.S. prepares to send first group of Syrian fighters back onto battlefield". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 26, 2015.
  6. ^ Pellerin, Cheryl (May 7, 2015). "Carter: Combat training begins for new Syrian forces". U.S. Department of Defense. Retrieved September 26, 2015.
  7. ^ "ISIS fight: U.S. says it has begun training Syrian fighters to take on militants". NBC News. May 8, 2015. Retrieved May 8, 2015.
  8. ^ "U.S. program to train new Syrian force faces logistic, diplomatic headaches". The Washington Post. April 3, 2015. Retrieved May 8, 2015.
  9. ^ Gutman, Roy (July 16, 2015). "First contingent of U.S.-trained fighters enters Syria". McClatchyDC. Retrieved September 26, 2015.
  10. ^ "Syrian group says Nusra abducts its leader, U.S. casts doubt". Reuters. July 30, 2015. Retrieved July 30, 2015.
  11. ^ "Thomas van Linge on Twitter". Retrieved 2016-07-05.
  12. ^ Bertrand, Natasha (September 21, 2015). "US-backed leader of Syrian rebel group quits and lists 6 problems with the training program". Business Insider. Retrieved October 25, 2015.
  13. ^ "Syria conflict: 75 US-trained rebels crossed into Syria from Turkey, monitoring group says". ABC. AFP. September 20, 2015. Retrieved September 23, 2015.
  14. ^ "MISSION IMPROBABLE: THE FAILURE OF THE US TRAIN AND EQUIP PROGRAM APPEARS TO BE IN THE ABILITY TO EVALUATE RISK". Ibrado. 23 September 2015.
  15. ^ Syrian rebel commander on why U.S. training program failed, CBS, 29-09-15
  16. ^ Porter, Tom (October 1, 2015). "Jabhat al-Nusra jihadists show off weapons allegedly seized from-US trained rebels". Business Insider. Retrieved October 25, 2015.
  17. ^ "Syrian Democratic Forces announcement in Aleppo and Idlib". Jesh al-Thowar. 17 November 2015.
  18. ^ "Division 30 denies its accession to Syria Democratic Forces". El-Dorar. 17 November 2015.
  19. ^ "Turkey Is Betting on Aleppo Rebels to Get Islamic State Out of Border Area". Vice News. 22 December 2015.
  20. ^ "Al-Nusra Front frees 7 US-backed rebels in Syria". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 2016-06-01.