Free Arabian Legion

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Free Arabian Legion
جيش بلاد العرب الحرة
Free Arabian Legion SSI.svg
Free Arabian Legion Insignia
Active 1941–1945
Disbanded 1945
Allegiance  Nazi Germany
Branch Wehrmacht
Size 20,000
Engagements

World War II

Amin al-Husseini, The co-creator of the Free Arabian Legion.

Free Arabian Legion (Arabic: جيش بلاد العرب الحرة Jaysh bilād al-ʿarab al-ḥurraẗ; German: Legion Freies Arabien) was a Nazi German military unit formed from Arab volunteers from the Middle East and North Africa during World War II.

It was created by Amin al-Husseini and Rashid Ali when they suggested the formation of an army of Arab volunteers, which was adopted by Adolf Hitler in 1941. The unit was based on a smaller force, commanded by Hellmuth Felmy, mainly to assist the Pro-Nazi revolt in Iraq which was suppressed by the British. The unit was first settled in Syria and included several Iraqi expatriates, and Syrian Arabs. After the conquest of Syria by the British, Australian and Free-French forces, the unit was moved to Sounion in Greece. There it received more Arab and Muslim troops who were on the soil of Europe at the time, as prisoners of war, or as volunteers.

The Nazis planned to use the legion in conquering the Caucasus, rising an Iraq government-in-exile there, and then use the region as a force station and base for a way of conquering Iraq (an end that was never taken).

In Operation Torch the Allies took Tunisia, which had been governed by Vichy France. During the fighting the German command called on Tunisian Arabs to join the Legion.

After the death of its commander[who?], the Legion was taken out from the Front, and in the November 1943 the Legion served in Peloponnese as part of the forces involved in the Axis occupation of Greece (as part of the 41st Infantry Division) and participated in the suppression of the Greek anti-fascist insurrection.

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