Hamza Division (Aleppo)

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Hamza Division
فرقة الحمزة
Furqat al-Hamza
Participant in the Syrian Civil War
Official logo of the Hamza Division
Official logo of the Hamza Division
Active 2013 – present
Groups
  • Hamza Brigade
  • Northern Thunder Brigade
  • Mare' Resistance Brigade
  • Special Operations Brigade
  • Dhi Qar Brigade
  • Kurdish Falcons Brigade[1]

Former:

Leaders
  • Lt. Saif Abu Bakr[3]
  • Abdullah Halawa[4]
  • Abu Jalal[2]
  • Hasan Abdullah Kulli Kurdish Falcons Brigade[1]
  • Abu Yasser al-Sheikh [5]
Headquarters Mare, Aleppo Governorate
Area of operations Aleppo Governorate
Size

2,200+ (self-claim, September 2017)[4]

  • 900 (February 2017)[6]
Part of

Syrian opposition Free Syrian Army

Originated as Hamza Battalion
Allies
Opponents
Battles and wars

Syrian Civil War

The Hamza Division (Arabic: فرقة الحمزة‎) is a Syrian rebel group affiliated with the Free Syrian Army, and trained and equipped by the United States and Turkey as part of the Syrian Train and Equip Program in northwestern Syria.

History[edit]

The Hamza Division was originally formed as the Hamza Brigade in the southern countryside of the Hasakah Governorate in 2013.[8]

On 23 April 2016, 5 FSA groups based in the town of Mare' in the northern Aleppo Governorate countryside, the Hamza Brigade, the Dhi Qar Brigade, the Northern Thunder Brigade, the Mare Resistance Brigade, and the Special Operations Brigade merged into the Hamza Division due to the "interests of unity" with the intention to fight the "crime and terror" of ISIL and the Syrian government. Under the command of Syrian Army defector Lt. Saif Abu Bakr,[3] the factions receive military support from the international coalition against ISIL.[9] The Dhi Qa Brigade was a former member of Division 99 along with Liwa Ahfad Saladin.

In June 2016, the Northern Thunder Brigade received BGM-71 TOW missiles from the coalition.[10] Also that month, a Syrian Turkmen group called the "Samarkand Brigade", named after the city in Uzbekistan, joined the Hamza Division.[11]

During the Turkish military intervention in the Syrian Civil War in late August, the Hamza Division became one of the first FSA groups to enter Jarabulus from Karkamış and captured the city. Saif Abu Bakr was among those who followed behind Turkish tanks and troops and entered Jarabulus in the morning during the first day of the operation, reaching the city center by afternoon.[12] He later gave a speech to residents in Jarabulus.[13]

On 18 October 2016, the Northern Thunder Brigade, part of the Hamza Division, issued an ultimatum to the YPG and the Army of Revolutionaries, warning them to leave Tell Rifaat within 48 hours after which they will attack the town, though the threat was never acted on[14]

On 24 September 2017, the Hamza Division announced the opening of a military academy in the city of al-Bab. According to Abdullah Halawa, military commander of the group, 2,200 fighters will undergo two months of training in the academy, with the goal of forming a "Syrian National Army" in northern Syria.[4]

Since January 2018, the group is participating in the Turkish military operation in Afrin against the YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces in the Afrin Region. In February, the Kurdish Falcons Brigade (aka Red Berets) was formed as part of the Hamza Division. Led by Hasan Abdullah Kulli, it claimed to consist of 600 fighters: 400 Kurds and 200 Arabs.[1] The Hamza Division, along with other groups and the Turkish Armed Forces, captured Afrin on 18 March 2018 after SDF fighters withdrew from the city. On 25 March, Hamza Division fighters killed a commander of Ahrar al-Sharqiya in Afrin, resulting in clashes between the two groups. Ahrar al-Sharqiya captured around 200 Hamza Division fighters during the fighting. A ceasefire agreement between the two groups were signed on the same day under the auspices of Turkey.[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Suraj Sharma (16 February 2018). "Turkey sends 'Kurdish Falcon' force to Afrin to counter anti-Kurd image". Middle East Eye. 
  2. ^ a b "Al-Hamza Division to RFS". Revolutionary Forces of Syria Media Office. 22 September 2016. 
  3. ^ a b "Hamza Division: a new military formation to fight ISIL". El-Dorar. 23 April 2016. 
  4. ^ a b c Rami Raj (25 September 2017). "Al-Hamzah Group (all partners): The opening of the military college is a step in the formation of the (National Army)". All4Syria. 
  5. ^ "FSA mourns the commander of the Hamza Battalion during the battle of Aleppo". Enab Baladi. 8 April 2016. 
  6. ^ "470 FSA fighters killed in Euphrates Shield Operation". Kom News. 17 February 2017. 
  7. ^ Khaled Khatib (26 May 2017). "Aleppo: opposition to end "the Knights of the Revolution"". Al-Modon. 
  8. ^ Ahmad Zakaraya (30 January 2017). "Al-Hamza Division to RFS: Our blood is not more expensive than our civilians and our goal is to liberate Syria from the regime's crimes and its assistant Daesh, the head of terrorism". RFS Media Office. 
  9. ^ "Hamza Division: merger of five FSA factions in northern Aleppo". Enab Baladi. 25 April 2016. 
  10. ^ "BMG-71 TOW ATGM Syrian Opposition groups in the Syrian Civil War". Badly Xeroxed. 30 June 2016. 
  11. ^ ""Samarkand," the name of a new species, "Free Army" in Syria". Enab Baladi. 22 June 2016. 
  12. ^ "Syria à la Carte: Turkish Invasion Highlights Rapidly Shifting Alliances". Spiegel. 26 August 2016. 
  13. ^ "Hamza Division military commander to the civilians of Jarabulus city". Hamza Division/Youtube. 26 August 2016. 
  14. ^ "FSA poised for showdown with Kurdish forces in Aleppo". The New Arab. 19 October 2016. 
  15. ^ "A six-item agreement to end the fighting between Ahrar al-Sharqiya and Hamzah in Afrin". El-Dorar al-Shamia. 25 March 2018. 

External links[edit]