لا تزال بعض الفصائل الرديفة للجيش السوري مستقلة ومن هذه الفصائل مجموعة ليث بقيادة 'ليث الجبل' من مواليد ١٩٨١ وهو من منطقة جبل الشيخ اصلا ولكن يسكن في السويداء حاليا. هو شكل مجموعته في عام ٢٠١٣ بمنطقة سكا في ريف دمشق وقاتلت المجموعة في مناطق كثيرة منها الغوطة الشرقية والقصير (حمص) وحلب وريف حلب ودير الزُّور (الميادين والبوكمال) وحاليا من المتوقع ان المجموعة ستشارك في عمليات ادلب. خلال الحرب اترقى ٩ مقاتلين من مرتبات المجموعة منهم اخو القائد الذي ارتقى في منطقة الزبداني في ريف دمشق.
يقول ليث ان هدف المجموعة 'تحرير سوريا من رجس الإرهاب والقضاء علىه بشكل كامل', كما يقول انه يفتخر بوجود المقاومة الإسلامية اللبنانية حزب الله في سوريا ويعتز بسماحة السيد حسن نصرالله (قائد حزب الله). ويضيف ليث انه لا يجود رواتب لدى مجموعته المستقلة وهي رديف للجيش السوري فقط.
وأرسل ليث إلي صور لمجموعته.
By now it is possible to identify many auxiliary groups fighting on the side of the Syrian government and the various specific entities with which they are affiliated. Other auxiliary groups, however, seem to have no affiliation at all. The Laith Group (Majmu'at Laith) is one such example.
The group is led by one who calls himself "Laith al-Jabal" ("Lion of the Mountain"), who was born in 1981 and is originally from the Jabal al-Sheikh area but resides in the predominantly Druze province of Suwayda'. He first set up his group in 2013 in the Saka area of the Damascus countryside in order to act as an auxiliary for the Syrian Army. Laith says he has recruited fighters from all sects, and that his group has fought in many areas, including:
Though the southern Syrian province of Suwayda' is primarily Druze, there is a notable Bedouin tribal minority in the province. I recently interviewed Sheikh Mamdouh al-Sa'id (aka Mamdouh al-Zubaidi), a Bedouin sheikh of the al-Shanabila tribe. He is supportive of the Syrian government and is a resident of Suwayda' city. This interview was conducted on 14 September 2018. Any parenthetical, explanatory insertions are in square brackets.
The Netherlands has seen a large controversy arise over 'non-lethal' support that was given to a faction called the Shami Front (al-Jabhat al-Shamiya), which is based in the 'Euphrates Shield' zone of north Aleppo countryside.
As it stands, the controversy concerns whether the group can be considered a 'jihadist' group. I have known the Shami Front since its inception at the end of 2014. Indeed, in December 2014, days before the Shami Front was announced, I conducted a research trip that partly involved embedding in north Aleppo countryside with the Northern Storm Brigade, which became one of the constituent groups of the Shami Front. Thus, I feel that I ought to comment on the matter.
Today the main epicentre of the remaining insurgency against the Syrian government is the province of Idlib and its environs. Within that milieu are multiple minor jihadi groups that have foreign fighters (muhajireen) in their ranks. Fursan al-Din (Knights of the Religion) is one such group. Fursan al-Din was founded by Turkish muhajireen, but it also has members from central Asia and Europe as well native Syrians. The group has most notably fought in the Latakia and Sahl al-Ghab areas.
Recently I was able to interview the amir of Fursan al-Din, who is himself Turkish, about the history of Fursan al-Din and the current situation. Note this interview was originally conducted in Turkish and the questions and answers have kindly been translated by an anonymous friend. Any explanatory insertions are in square brackets.
The two Shi'i villages of Kafariya and al-Fu'a in Idlib province came to wider media attention on account of international negotiations over the status of their inhabitants, who came under rebel siege following the rebel takeover of almost all of Idlib province in 2015. In July 2018, the last evacuations of the two villages' inhabitants took place.
Yesterday I interviewed Haydara Abu Ridha, who is originally from Kafariya and was among those who left the village. He is currently a member of a formation affiliated with Hezbollah and resides in Hasya in Homs province. As ever, explanatory insertions are in square brackets. The interview has been condensed for clarity.
طبعا تتحدث أغلب الجهات الإعلامية عن بداية العمليات العسكرية من أجل إستعادة السيطرة على محافظة إدلب ومحيطها, ولكنه علينا ان لا ننسى ان العمليات مستمرة في بادية السويداء ضد تنظيم داعش الإرهابي. قوات الدفاع الوطني (مركز السويداء) هي من أبرز التشكيلات الرديفة للجيش العربي السوري في حملة البادية. وكان لي الشرف ان أجري مقابلة اليوم مع عماد نجيب السلمان مسؤول الاتمتة والإتصالات في الدفاع الوطني مركز السويداء.
Much attention is focusing right now on the prospect of a Syrian government offensive to reclaim greater Idlib province and its environs. However, operations are ongoing against the Islamic State in the Suwayda' desert in the south of the country. Among the forces participating on the side of the Syrian government in the Suwayda' desert campaign are the National Defence Forces (NDF) of Suwayda' province. The NDF in Suwayda' province is among the largest pro-government auxiliary formations in the province. To discuss the Suwayda' NDF further, I interviewed today Emad Najeeb al-Salman, the automation and connections official in the Suwayda' NDF. Any explanatory insertions are in square brackets.
Most international attention on Sunni foreign fighters in Syria looks at the Islamic State aspect behind the phenomenon, exploring questions like whether fighters of various nationalities who joined the Islamic State should be stripped of their original citizenship and whether they should face trial in their home countries. Further controversies surround the fate of Islamic State fighters' wives and children, many of whom are now kept in a special section of an IDP camp in the Ain Issa area of Raqqa province (in May 2018, I visited that section of the camp, about which I will write subsequently).
However, there are still many Sunni foreign fighters in the northwestern part of Syria who joined groups besides the Islamic State, and the question of their own future is now all the more relevant in light of talk of an imminent Syrian government offensive to recapture greater Idlib and its environs.
Of these foreign fighters in northwestern Syria, some are determined to continue what they see as a legitimate and just jihad, but at least some others have become disillusioned, as is the case with Abu Osaid, originally from Tajikistan and the interviewee of this post. Abu Osaid, born in Tajikistan in 1988, currently resides in Idlib with his Tajik wife whom he brought with him to Syria (though for security reasons, their exact location in Idlib cannot be revealed). Above all, he would like to flee to Turkey.
ظهر إسم حركة النجباء (حركة حزب الله النجباء) في عام ٢٠١٣ وهي من اشهر الفصائل التي بقيادة عراقية وتقاتل في سوريا. ولكنه ليس من المعلوم ان حركة النجباء تطوع سوريين. ومؤخراً كان لي الشرف ان أقوم بإجراء مقابلة مع محمد روسي وهو مقاتل سوري في حركة النجباء.