Northern Sun Battalion

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Northern Sun Battalion[1]
كتائب شمس الشمال
Participant in Syrian Civil War
Logo of the Northern Sun Battalion.png
ActiveApril 2014 – present
  • Euphrates Brigades
  • Soldiers of the Two Holy Mosques Brigade
  • Euphrates Martyrs Brigade
  • Dam Martyrs Brigade
  • Al-Qusais Brigade
  • Manbij Turkmen Brigade
  • Muhammad Mustafa Ali ("Abu Adel")[3] (co-general commander, 2014-16,[a] general commander since 2016)[4][5]
  • Faisal Saadoun ("Abu Layla") (DOW) (leading commander,[a] 2014-16)[6]
  • Adnan Abu-Amjad  (former deputy commander) [7]
  • Sherwan Derwish (commander and spokesperson)[8]
  • Brig. Gen. Mohammed Hammou (first commander)[9]
  • Adnan al-Ahmad (commander-in-chief in Hasakah Governorate)[10]
  • Raizan Abu Mahmoud (commander)[11]
  • Abdul Qader Sheikh Muhammad ("Abdo Dushka")  (field commander, killed in April 2015)[12]
  • Ibrahim al-Banawi (Soldiers of the Two Holy Mosques Brigade commander)[13]
  • Gaddafi Abu Ali Jreikh [14] (Dam Martyrs Brigade commander)
HeadquartersManbij, Aleppo Governorate
Area of operations
  • +100 (2014)[6]
  • 2,500 (self-claim in 2016)[16]
Part of
Merger ofKurdish Front and Free Syria Brigade's eastern branches[18]
Opponent(s)AQMI Flag asymmetric.svg Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant[15]
Battles and war(s)Syrian Civil War

The Northern Sun Battalion (Arabic: كتائب شمس الشمال‎, romanizedKatā'ib Šams aš-Šamāl) is an armed rebel group affiliated with the Free Syrian Army and part of the Syrian Democratic Forces that has been active during the Syrian Civil War.[1]


The formation of the Northern Sun Battalion was announced by Mohammed Hammou, a brigadier general who defected from the Syrian Armed Forces, in the Manbij countryside on 16 April 2014. Less than a week later, several other small groups and individuals joined the battalion, including Abu Layla and several other commanders from the Kurdish Front[9] and the Free Syria Brigade's eastern branch.[18]

On 3 May 2015, some of former members of the northern branches of the Hazzm Movement, (including the Atarib Martyrs Brigade) and the Syrian Revolutionaries Front along with Jabhat al-Akrad, the Dawn of Freedom Brigades main component group the Northern Sun Battalion (making the Dawn of Freedom Brigades defunct in the process) and smaller FSA groups formed the Army of Revolutionaries.[20][21] Many of the northern members of the Syrian Revolutionaries Front and Hazzm Movement also joined the Levant Front.

In October 2015 it became part of the Syrian Democratic Forces. Subsequently, the Dawn of Freedom Brigades went defunct.[22]

In November, the battalion participated in the Syrian Democratic Force's al-Hawl offensive, and according to commander-in-chief Adnan al-Ahmad was committed to pushing ISIL out of al-Shaddadah and Raqqa, as well as from Jarablus, the Tishrin Dam and Manbij.[10]

When the Manbij Military Council was set up on 3 April 2016, the battalion's second-in-command, Adnan Abu-Amjad, was made the council's general commander.[23] In course of the following Manbij offensive, one of the Northern Sun Battalion's most prominent commanders was killed: Abu Layla died on the 5th of June 2016, after being shot in the head by an Islamic State sniper on Friday June third, in the countryside south of Manbij, Syria. He had previously been evacuated by a US military helicopter to a hospital in Sulaymaniyah, Iraqi Kurdistan, but doctors were unable to remove a bullet to the head and prevent internal bleeding to the brain.[24][25]

On 28 August 2017, pro-Syrian government media reported that Ibrahim al-Banawi, commander of the Northern Sun Battalion's Soldiers of the Two Holy Mosques Brigade, had defected to the Syrian Army in the southern Raqqa countryside;[26] this was proven to be false, as Ibrahim was still with the Northern Sun Battalion in January 2018.[27] On 29 August 2017, Adnan Abu Amjad, former deputy commander of the Northern Sun Battalion and the general commander of the Manbij Military Council, was killed in action during the Battle of Raqqa.[28]

On 17 September 2017, Muhammad Mustafa Ali, also known by his nom de guerre "Abu Adel", the general commander of the Northern Sun Battalion, was appointed the general commander of the Manbij Military Council as the successor of Adnan Abu Amjad.[29][30]

Additional groups that joined[edit]

The Soldiers of the Two Holy Mosques Brigade, which joined the Northern Sun Battalion in March 2016.

War crimes[edit]

On 15 March 2017, a video surfaced that showed members of the Northern Sun Battalion torturing an ISIL fighter, who had been captured while planting mines. One of these mines had killed nine fighters of the battalion, leading five others to take revenge on the ISIL militant. The Manbij Military Council condemned the act, and announced that the involved Northern Sun Battalion fighters would be held for trial for violating the Geneva Conventions.[35][36] The five accused were subsequently arrested on 17 March.[37]

See also[edit]


a Unclear, as both Abu Adel[2] and Abu Layla[38] were described as the general commander of the Northern Sun Battalion between 2014 and 2016.


  1. ^ a b "Syrian Kurd leader urges Turkey to join fight against jihadists". Al Monitor. 6 May 2014. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  2. ^ a b "Commander of the Northern Sun Battalions in Kobani: Personally I am against the idea of a buffer zone". ARA News. 4 December 2014.
  3. ^ ""Under A Scorching Sun" A Special Report on the Recent Events Witnessed in Raqqa Governorate". Violations Documentation Center in Syria. August 2015.
  4. ^ "Hamza Hemze حمزة on Twitter".
  5. ^ a b "Shams al-Shamal fighters participating in Wrath of Euphrates". Hawar News Agency. 2 January 2017. Retrieved 2 January 2017.
  6. ^ a b "Kurds doggedly defend Ain al-Arab". Associated Press. 5 December 2014. Retrieved 5 December 2014.
  7. ^ "SDF plays central role in Syrian civil war" (PDF). Jane's Intelligence Review. January 2016. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  8. ^ Cihad Hammy (3 January 2017). "Rojava or Northern Syria?". Kurdish Question.
  9. ^ a b c "Statement join several battalions in the countryside of Aleppo east to Sun Brigades North". Xeber 24. 22 April 2014.
  10. ^ a b c "War on ISIS unites Syrian Kurds, Arabs and Christians". ARA News. 21 November 2015. Retrieved 5 December 2015.
  11. ^ a b Hasan Mustafa. "An Analysis of Jaish al-Thuwar (The Army of Revolutionaries) – A Component of the Syrian Democratic Forces". Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  12. ^ "Revolution fighters". Hawar News Agency. 14 April 2015.
  13. ^ "Who is the "Jund al-Haramain Brigade", who joined the Democratic Forces for Syria to fight state regulation?". STEP News Agency. 10 March 2016.
  14. ^ "#Syria - Five commanders of YPG-affiliated Arab group assassinated". Yalla Souriya. 4 February 2017.
  15. ^ a b c "YPG and FSA form a joint military chamber to combat ISIS in Syria". ARA News. 12 September 2014. Archived from the original on 14 October 2014. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  16. ^ "US coalition spokesman: Arabs are leading Manbij campaign, not Kurds". ARA News. 4 June 2016. Archived from the original on 6 June 2016.
  17. ^ ARA News (3 April 2016). "Syrian rebels form military council to combat ISIS in Manbij مجلس منبج العسكري يطلق عملياته ضد داعش" – via YouTube.
  18. ^ a b "Mohammed Abu Adel in brief". Hawar News Agency. 18 September 2017.
  19. ^ "The Dawn of Freedom Brigades: Analysis and Interview". Syria Comment. 2 October 2014. Retrieved 12 November 2014.
  20. ^ "#Syria: Seven FSA groups (incl. Jabhat Akrad, Shams Shamal & Homs Revolutionary Union) form "The Revolutionary Army"". Twitter.
  21. ^ "#SRO - EXCLUSIVE - Former Hazzm and #SRF forces allied with kurds and some #FSA small units to create Jaysh al-Thuwar (in 4 governorates)". Twitter.
  22. ^ Hasan Mustafa (16 November 2015). "An Analysis of Jaish al-Thuwar (The Army of Revolutionaries) – A Component of the Syrian Democratic Forces". Retrieved 5 December 2015.
  23. ^ "Kurds set up new civilian council for recapturing Syria's Manbij from ISIS". ARA News. 6 April 2016. Archived from the original on 7 April 2016.
  24. ^ "Isis sniper's bullet kills Free Syrian Army commander". 5 June 2016.
  25. ^ "Top Syrian Kurdish Commander Killed in Raqqa Campaign". ABC News.
  26. ^ Andrew Illingworth (28 August 2017). "BREAKING: Two top US-backed SDF commanders defect to Syrian Army (Photos)". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  27. ^ "تصريح نائب قائد مجلس منبج العسكري الشيخ ابراهيم البناوي حول الاحداث التي تدور في المنطقة 2018-1-17" [Statement by the Deputy Commander of the Council of Manbaj military Sheikh Ibrahim Al-Bannawi on events in the region 2018-1-17]. Manbij Military Council. 17 January 2018. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  28. ^ "SDF: Manbij commander Adnan killed in Raqqa offensive". Rudaw Media Network. 30 August 2017.
  29. ^ "Muhammad Abu Adel, MMC new commander". Hawar News Agency. 18 September 2017.
  30. ^ "Mohammed Abu Adel as General Commander of the Manbaj Military Council". Furat FM Radio. 17 September 2017.
  31. ^ "Euphrates Martyrs Brigade claimed its accession to SASO". Hawar News Agency. 13 January 2016.
  32. ^ "Martyrs of Dam Brigade join Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)".
  33. ^ "QSD Press Office on Twitter".
  34. ^ @QSD00963 (10 March 2016). "A new brigade "Liwa Jund Al Haramayn" announced it is joining to our forces" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  35. ^ "Statement by Manbij Military Council (March 16, 2017)". YPG Rojava. 16 March 2017.
  36. ^ "Manbij Military Council on torture allegations: We are committed to laws of war". Hawar News Agency. Archived from the original on 20 March 2017.
  37. ^ Wladimir van Wilgenburg (18 March 2017). "Five SDF members arrested for torturing ISIS militant". ARA News.
  38. ^ "Abu Laila example of the leader and an example of a father and role model fighters". Hawar News Agency. 6 June 2016.