Sham Legion

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Sham Legion
فيلق الشام
Faylaq al-Sham
Participant in the Syrian Civil War
Sham Legion Logo.jpeg
Logo of the Sham Legion
Flag of the Sham Legion.svg
Flag of the Sham Legion
Active 10 March 2014 – present[1]
Ideology Sunni Islamism[1][2]
Leaders
  • Leader (2014): Mondher Saras[1]
  • Top commander: Col. Mohammad Bakkar [3]
  • Field commander: Zuheir Harba [4]
  • Senior commander: Feisal Balkash [5]
  • Field commander (2014–18): Maj. Yasser Abdul Rahim[6][7]
  • Field commander: Khaldun Mador ("Abu Jamil")[7]
Area of operations

Syria

Size 4,000[8][9]
(Russian military claim, December 2016)
Part of
Originated as Shields of the Revolution Council
Allies
Opponents
Battles and wars

Syrian Civil War

The Sham Legion (Arabic: فيلق الشام‎, Faylaq al-Sham[1]) is an alliance of Sunni Islamist rebel groups formed in March 2014, during the Syrian Civil War.[1] The alliance was formed from 19 different groups,[20] some of which were previously affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood of Syria and the Shields of the Revolution Council.[1][21]

History[edit]

Major Yasser Abdul Rahim, field commander of the Sham Legion and commander of Fatah Halab during the Battle of Aleppo, coordinate an attack on YPG positions in Aleppo, 2 October 2015.
Sham Legion multiple rocket launcher mounted on a technical launch rockets at YPG positions in Aleppo, 2 October 2015.

The Sham Legion was formed on 10 March 2014 from 19 Islamist rebel groups in Syria. These groups operated from the Aleppo Governorate to Damascus, but were concentrated in the Idlib, Hama, and Homs governorates. The formation aimed to "unify the ranks" of non-al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamist rebels in Syria. After its formation, the group took part in the Battle of Murak and Khan Shaykhun in 2014.[1]

On 24 March 2015, the Army of Conquest, an alliance of Sunni Islamist and Salafist jihadist groups in Syria, was announced, with the Sham Legion as a member group. As part of the Army of Conquest, the Sham Legion took part in the Battle of Idlib and the subsequent Idlib and wider Northwestern Syria offensives.[22]

On 26 April 2015, along with 6 other major Aleppo-based rebel groups: Ahrar al-Sham, Jaysh al-Islam, Fastaqim Union, Levant Front, Levant Revolutionaries Battalions, and Dawn of Caliphate Battalions, the Sham Legion established the Fatah Halab joint operations room.[23][24] Major Yasser Abdul Rahim, field commander of the Sham Legion, was appointed commander of Fatah Halab, a position he maintained until government forces recaptured the entirely of Aleppo in December 2016.[7]

Between 2014 and 2016, the Sham Legion was at one point a rebel group vetted by the United States and received BGM-71 TOW anti-tank missiles.[25] In January 2016, the Northern Brigade was formed as part of the Sham Legion in the Aleppo Governorate.[26]

The group participated in Operation Euphrates Shield, which began on 24 August 2016 in Jarabulus and aimed to expel the Syrian Democratic Forces and the Islamic State from the northern Aleppo Governorate.[27] Following the campaign, Sham Legion became involved in conflict between the different Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (TFSA) factions. On 30 May 2017, after increasing inter-rebel conflict in northern Aleppo, the Sham Legion expelled the Northern Brigade from its ranks and dismissed its commander, Captain Mustafa Rami al-Kuja.[28] The Sham Legion, along with six other TFSA groups, formed the Victory Bloc in June 2017,[29] while the Free North Brigade, formerly part of the al-Tawhid Brigade, joined the Sham Legion on 16 June 2017.[30]

The Sham Legion also took part in the Turkish military intervention in Afrin in 2018, with its chief commander Major Yasser Abdul Rahim serving as "key member" of the campaign's Olive Branch Operations' Room. Yasser stated that the operation against the Syrian Democratic Forces in the Afrin District was aimed at "liberate the area from all kinds of terrorism and protect civilians, Arabs and Kurds" and that the TFSA would attempt to avoid civilian casualties.[6] On 7 February 2018, Yasser was dismissed from his position as commander without explanation, and was replaced by Khaldun Mador ("Abu Jamil"). Khaldun, who is little-known without media coverage, is reportedly the third highest-ranking commander of the Sham Legion.[7]

In May 2018, along with 10 other rebel groups in northwestern Syria, the Sham Legion formed the National Front for Liberation, which was officially announced on 28 May. Colonel Fadlallah al-Haji, commander of the Sham Legion, was appointed as the overall commander of the formation.[16] On 4 June, the Martyrs of Islam Brigade, also part of the NFL, joined the Sham Legion.[31]

Member groups[edit]

  • Fatiheen Brigade[1]
  • Eman Brigade[1]
  • Sihem al-Haq Brigade[1]
  • Ajnad al-Sham Islamic Union Idlib branch[32]
  • Sadiq Brigade[33]
  • 10th Coastal Brigade[34][35]
  • Free North Brigade[30] (part of the TFSA, and not the NFL)
  • Sham Commandos Brigade[36] (part of the TFSA and not the NFL)
    • Sons of Waer Battalion
    • Revolutionaries of Waer Battalion
  • Martyrs of Islam Brigade[31]
    • Martyrs of Daraya Battalion[37]
    • Martyrs of the Revolution Battalion
    • Fayha al-Sham Battalion
    • Lions of Tawhid Battalion
    • Descendants of Saladin Battalion
    • Lions of Sunna Battalion
    • Special Task Force Battalion
    • Artillery Company
    • Engineering and Air Defence Company

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "The Sham Legion: Syria's Moderate Islamists". Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. 15 April 2014. Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
  2. ^ "Al Qaeda and allies gain more ground in Aleppo province". The Long War Journal. 24 June 2016. Retrieved 30 August 2016. 
  3. ^ Charkatli, Izat (10 July 2016). "Prominent rebel commander killed in Mallah battles". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 10 July 2016. 
  4. ^ Fadel, Leith (9 July 2016). "Jihadist rebels suffer heavy casualties in failed northern Aleppo offensive". Retrieved 12 July 2016. 
  5. ^ "Senior Terrorist Commanders Killed in Failed Attacks on Gov't Positions in Aleppo". Farsnews. 10 July 2016. Retrieved 10 July 2016. 
  6. ^ a b "Who Are the Pro-Turkey Rebels Advancing on Syria's Afrin". Naharnet. 22 January 2018. Retrieved 22 January 2018. 
  7. ^ a b c d "The "Sham Corps" isolates leader Yasser Abdel Rahim". Enab Baladi. 7 February 2018. 
  8. ^ "Yes, there are 70,000 moderate opposition fighters in Syria". Spectator Blogs. Archived from the original on 28 November 2015. Retrieved 29 November 2015. 
  9. ^ "List of armed formations, which joined the ceasefire in the Syrian Arab Republic on December 30, 2016". Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation. Retrieved 30 December 2016. 
  10. ^ "New alliance could signal end of Islamic Front". As-Safir. 4 August 2014. Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
  11. ^ "The biggest rebel factions in Aleppo just formed coalition "Operation Conquest of Aleppo". Source is a facebook video uploaded 20 mins ago by the Syrian Revolution 2011 facebook page. : syriancivilwar". reddit. 
  12. ^ "Inside the Victory Army restructuring: Infighting led to 'breakdown of our operational effectiveness'". Retrieved 12 July 2016. 
  13. ^ "WinningLooksLike comments on FSA, Jabhat a-Nusra ally in north Homs ahead of expected Russian-backed offensive". reddit. 
  14. ^ "Factions involved in North Aleppo's Opposition/SDF Conflict". Archicivilians. 1 December 2015. Retrieved 1 December 2015. 
  15. ^ "Official statement listing groups involved in the 'North Hama Countryside Operations Room' - Jaish al-Nasr, Jaish al-Izza, Faylaq al-Sham, Abna al-Sham, Liwa Omar • r/syriancivilwar". reddit. 
  16. ^ a b "11 FSA Factions in New Command in of "National Front Liberation"". Syria Call. 28 May 2018. 
  17. ^ 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 18 May 2014. 
  18. ^ "Syrian War Daily – 2nd of March 2018". 2 March 2018. 
  19. ^ "Rebels launch full-on assault of Idlib city". Syria Direct. Retrieved 25 March 2015. 
  20. ^ "Nineteen Syrian Opposition Groups Unite under 'Al-Sham Legion'". Syria 360°. 11 March 2014. Retrieved 18 May 2014. 
  21. ^ Cody Roche Syrian Opposition Factions in the Syrian Civil War, Bellingcat, 13 August 2016
  22. ^ Jeffrey White (27 April 2015). "Growing Rebel Capabilities Press the Syrian Regime". The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. 
  23. ^ "Fateh Haleb Coalition Member Organizations List : syriancivilwar". reddit. 
  24. ^ "In the footsteps of Idlib .. factions announce the version of the Aleppo army "conquest"". Zaman al-Wasl. 26 April 2015. 
  25. ^ hasanmustafas (8 May 2015). "The Moderate Rebels: A Growing List of Vetted Groups Fielding BGM-71 TOW Anti-Tank Guided Missiles". 
  26. ^ "Clashes break out in Ghouta of Damascus and in Dar'a; Al-Sham Legion forms Al-Shamal Brigade in Aleppo". Revolutionary Forces of Syria Media Office. 30 January 2016. 
  27. ^ "Turkish-led forces capture first village in northern Syria". al-Masdar News. 24 August 2016. 
  28. ^ "Northern Brigade separates from Sham Legion". All4Syria. 30 May 2017. 
  29. ^ "The merger of seven opposition factions north of Aleppo under the name of (a block of victory)". Al Etihad Press. 5 June 2017. 
  30. ^ a b "Brigade North are free to announce joining the Sham Corps". Qasioun News Agency. 16 June 2017. 
  31. ^ a b @QalaatAlMudiq (4 June 2018). "Syria: FSA Shuhada Islam Brigade from Daraya officially merged with Faylaq Sham, part of National Liberation Front (#NLF)" (Tweet) – via Twitter. 
  32. ^ "فيلق الشام on Twitter". 
  33. ^ Barić, Joško (23 May 2017). "Liwa al-Sadiq based in Abu al-Duhur and led by Abu al-Sami joined Faylaq al-Shampic.twitter.com/uMc7amKBBL". 
  34. ^ "Hassan Ridha on Twitter". Retrieved 12 July 2016. 
  35. ^ "Syrian Civil War factions". 
  36. ^ Barić, Joško (21 June 2017). "Syrian War Daily – 21st of June 2017". 
  37. ^ "About Islam Martyrs Brigade". Local Council of Daraya City. 

External links[edit]