Al-Tawhid Brigade

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al-Tawhid Brigade
لواء التوحيد
Participant in the Syrian Civil War
Official logo of the Tawhid Brigade
Official logo of the Tawhid Brigade
Active 18 July 2012—2014 (central group, some remnants still use the name)
Ideology Sunni Islamism
Leaders
  • Abdul Qader Saleh [1][2]
    (Top Commander July 2012–November 2013)
  • Adnan Bakkour [3]
    (Top Commander November 2013–January 2014)
  • Abdelaziz Salameh[4]
    (Top Commander January 2014-?)
  • Mohammed Hamadeen[5]
    (Ahrar al-Shamal Brigade)
  • Yusef al-Jader [6]
    (Senior commander in Aleppo)
  • Yussef Al-Abbas [1]
    (Intelligence chief)
Headquarters Aleppo, Mare', and Tell Rifaat
Area of operations of Syria[7]
Strength 10,000 (own claim) (Nov 2012)[8]
11,000 (Oct 2013)[9]
Part of
Merger of Ahrar al-Shamal Brigade
Fursan al-Jabal Brigade
Daret Izza Brigade
Allies
Opponents
Battles and wars

Syrian Civil War

The al-Tawhid Brigade (Arabic: لواء التوحيد‎, translit. Liwa al-Tawhid, lit. 'Brigade of Oneness'‎), named after Tawhid, the "oneness of God," but often mistranslated as Unity Brigade, was an armed Islamist insurgent group involved in the Syrian Civil War.

The al-Tawhid Brigade was formed in 2012.[16][17] Reportedly backed by Qatar,[18] al-Tawhid was considered one of the biggest groups in northern Syria, dominating much of the insurgency around Aleppo.[17]

Affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood,[6][9] in late 2013 it co-signed a joint statement calling for Sharia law and rejecting the authority of the Syrian National Coalition.[19]

Originally, al-Tawhid was composed of three subunits, the Fursan al-Jabal Brigade, the Daret Izza Brigade, the Ahrar al-Shamal Brigade, and the Aleppo Shahba Battalions.[5]

Its leader Abdul Qader Saleh died late 2013 in a devastating Syrian Army airstrike. Its northern branch, the Ahrar al-Shamal Brigade, was in 2014 reportedly "superseded" by the Northern Sun Battalion (Shams al-Shamal).[20]

Branches[edit]

Flag of the Elite Islamic Battalion, part of the Tawhid Brigade until November 2013

The Tawhid Brigade consisted was organized into three branches:

Around June 2013 the Tawhid Brigade was reorganised into nearly 30 sub-factions.[23]

In November 2013, the Elite Islamic Battalion left the Tawhid Brigade.[24]

On 2 March 2014 the Northern Storm Brigade announced that they would join the Islamic Front under the leadership of the al-Tawhid Brigade.[25] Also in 2014, the Euphrates Jarabulus Brigades left to join the Dawn of Freedom Brigades.

At some point the 1st Regiment[26] was a member group.

History[edit]

Formation[edit]

The al-Tawhid Brigade was formed in 2012 in order to coordinate the Battle of Aleppo,[16] with the stated mission to found a "civil state in Syria with Islam being the main source of legislation."[17]

Activity[edit]

Fighters of the al-Tawhid Brigade deface an image of President Bashar al-Assad on the road between Hama and Raqqa on 27 March 2013.

In November 2012, the Tawhid Brigade announced their support for the Syrian National Coalition but called for greater representation in the coalition. The brigade's leadership called for "a civil state where the basis of legislation is the Islamic faith, with consideration for all the [minority] groups of Syria". They thereby implicitly rejected an earlier statement they had made, with other local factions, which had called for an Islamic state in Syria and denouncing the Syrian National Coalition.[8][27]

In January 2013, the Tawhid Brigade announced on its website that it had become a member of the Syrian Islamic Liberation Front.[28]

In May 2013, the hell cannon, a mortar-like improvised firearm designed and built by the insurgent group Ahrar al-Shamal Brigade, was first noted in the press.[29]

In June 2013, Tawhid Brigade sent over 300 fighters under the command of Saleh and the Aleppo Military Council's Obaidi to the Battle of al-Qusayr.[30]

On 22 September 2013, the Tawhid Brigade joined the Islamic Front coalition. The group is formed largely from the Syrian Liberation Front, which is officially dissolved in the process.[31]

On 24 September 2013, the Tawhid Brigade co-signed a statement with 11 other rebel groups which called for Sharia law and, allying with al-Qaeda, rejected the authority of the Syrian National Coalition.[19]

Disintegration[edit]

A T-62 main battle tank operated by the Tawhid Brigade in Tell Rifaat, September 2013.

On 14 November 2013, a Syrian Air Force airstrike bombarded an army base held by Al Tawhid brigade in Aleppo killing a commander by the name of Youssef al-Abbas also injuring two others including Al Tawhid's head commander Abdul Qader Saleh.[32] Saleh subsequently died of his wounds in a Turkish hospital.[33]

Following the death of Saleh, the Tawhid Brigade reportedly suffered serious internal divisions and lost considerable members in defections to other rebel factions. They also experienced a sharp reduction in military assistance from Gulf states, due to US pressure to support more moderate rebel groups.[34][35]

By October 2014, al-Tawhid had seen many of its eastern Aleppo province affiliates becoming defunct but re-emerging as break-off groups, and its northern branch Ahrar al-Shamal being "superseded" by the Northern Sun Battalion (Shams al-Shamal).[20] Some remnants of the Tawhid Brigade near Azaz allied itself with the People's Protection Units and received equipment and training from the CIA in late 2014.[36]

Their fighters became a core part of the Levant Front as of 2015.[37] However, in October 2016 4 "battalions" of rebels in Aleppo using the flag of the Tawhid Brigade reportedly left the Levant Front and joined Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki.[38]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Syria air strike hits Islamist brigade leadership Al Ahram (AFP), 15 November 2013
  2. ^ Top Syrian rebel commander dies from wounds (Reuters), 18 November 2013
  3. ^ Al-Qaeda fighters kill Syrian rebel leaders Al-Jazeera, 2 February 2014
  4. ^ "The Levant Front: Can Aleppo’s Rebels Unite?". Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. 26 December 2014. Retrieved 30 January 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c Jeffrey Bolling (29 August 2012). "Rebel Groups in northern Aleppo Province" (PDF). Institute for the Study of War. 
  6. ^ a b "Free Syrian Army top commander killed in Syria's Aleppo". Al-Ahram. 15 December 2012. Retrieved 23 December 2012. 
  7. ^ "A Dunon on Twitter". 
  8. ^ a b Atassi, Basma (20 November 2012). "Aleppo rebels retract rejection of coalition". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 22 November 2012. 
  9. ^ a b c "The Story of Al-Tawhid Brigade: Fighting for Sharia in Syria". Al-Monitor (As-Safir). 22 October 2013. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  10. ^ "Syria - The Free Syrian Army". Vice. 22 December 2012. Retrieved 17 May 2014. 
  11. ^ "The Revolutionary Command Council: Rebel Unity in Syria?". Carnegie Endowment of International Peace. 1 December 2014. Retrieved 1 December 2014. 
  12. ^ a b "Warring Syrian rebel groups abduct each other’s members". Times of Israel. 18 May 2013. Retrieved 3 October 2013. 
  13. ^ a b Aron Lund (24 September 2013). "New Islamist Bloc Declares Opposition to National Coalition and US Strategy". Syria Comment. Retrieved 25 September 2013. 
  14. ^ a b "Freedom, Human Rights, Rule of Law: The Goals and Guiding Principles of the Islamic Front and Its Allies". Democratic Revolution, Syrian Style. 17 May 2014. Retrieved 17 May 2014. 
  15. ^ "Syrian Rebels Clash With Kurdish Militias". Al Monitor. 9 June 2013. Retrieved 5 July 2013. 
  16. ^ a b Panell, Ian (30 July 2012). "Syria: Fear and hunger amid battle for Aleppo". BBC. Retrieved 30 July 2012. 
  17. ^ a b c "Liwaa al-Tawhid Brigade". Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium. Retrieved 7 October 2015. 
  18. ^ Syrian air raid kills rebel commander in Aleppo: activists Reuters, 14 November 2013
  19. ^ a b Bill Roggio (26 September 2013). "Free Syrian Army units ally with al Qaeda, reject Syrian National Coalition, and call for sharia". The Long War Journal. Retrieved 7 December 2015. 
  20. ^ a b Joshua Landis (2 October 2014). "The Dawn of Freedom Brigades: Analysis and Interview". Retrieved 7 December 2015. 
  21. ^ Lund, Aron (13 December 2013). "The Syria Revolutionaries’ Front". Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Retrieved 19 March 2014. 
  22. ^ "Brigade North are free to announce joining the Sham Corps". Qasioun News Agency. 16 June 2017. 
  23. ^ Lund, Aron (2013-08-27). "The Non-State Militant Landscape in Syria". CTC Sentinel. Retrieved 2013-08-28. 
  24. ^ "Tawhid Brigade dismisses 6 battalions over shariah breaches SYRIA NEWS - ZAMAN ALWSL". 
  25. ^ "Northern Storm joins Tawhid Brigade". The Daily Star. 5 March 2014. Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
  26. ^ "الفوج اﻷوّل (@alfaoj_alaooal) - Twitter". 
  27. ^ Lund, Aron (4 December 2012). "Aleppo and the Battle for the Syrian Revolution’s Soul". Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Retrieved 3 June 2013. 
  28. ^ "انضمام لواء التوحيد لجبهة تحرير سوريا الاسلامية".  Official Website (in Arabic)
  29. ^ Brown Moses (23 May 2013). "DIY Weapons In Syria - The Hell Cannon". Brown Moses Blog. Retrieved December 13, 2014. 
  30. ^ "Tawhid Brigade in Aleppo sends support units to al-Qusayr Anadolu Agency". Aa.com.tr. Retrieved 2013-11-22. 
  31. ^ "Islamists forge Syria's rebel alliance". SBS World News. 
  32. ^ "Syrian air raid kills rebel commander in Aleppo: activists". 15 November 2016 – via Reuters. 
  33. ^ Top Syrian rebel commander dies from wounds
  34. ^ "As ISIS closes in, is it game over for Syria's opposition in Aleppo?". CNN. 15 August 2014. Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
  35. ^ "Too Big to Fall". Foreign Policy. 30 July 2014. Retrieved 25 August 2014. (subscription required)
  36. ^ Amberin Zaman (16 September 2014). "Fight against IS helps PKK gain global legitimacy". Al-Monitor. 
  37. ^ "Syrian Civil War factions". 
  38. ^ Syria_Rebel_Obs (15 October 2016). "Liwa al-Tawhid (ONLY 4 battalions who defected from Jabhat ash-Shamiyah, retaking old brigade name) joining Nur ad-Din Zenki in #Aleppo." (Tweet) – via Twitter. 

External links[edit]