May 27, 2016

Yarmouk Valley: The Formation of Jaysh Khalid ibn al-Waleed?

Yarmouk Valley sector
Army of Khalid ibn al-Waleed

No. 101
Date: 14 Sha'aban 1437 AH

Statement for distribution

The ongoing fighting in the Yarmouk Valley in southwest Deraa on the border with the Golan Heights between Liwa Shuhada' al-Yarmouk (LSY) and Harakat al-Muthanna al-Islamiya (HMI) on one side versus southern FSA factions and the southern Jaysh al-Fatah on the other is more or less at a stalemate. While the latter have succeeded in reversing the gains of LSY and HMI, pushing deeper into the Yarmouk Valley has proven more difficult but life has become increasingly difficult for Yarmouk Valley … [Read more...]

The Leopards of Homs: A Pro-Assad Militia

Emblem of Fuhud Homs pro-Assad militia

  Emblem of The Leopards of Homs. The Arabic reads: "Fuhud Homs: Fawj al-Maham al-Khasa" (The Leopards of Homs: Special Operations Regiment). See older emblems of the militia here. The Homs area has seen the creation and growth of multiple militias on the regime side over the course of the Syrian civil war, including Liwa Khaybar (The Khaybar Brigade) andQuwat al-Ridha (The Ridha Forces, part of Syrian Hezbollah). The Leopards of Homs (hereafter: Fuhud Homs) is another such … [Read more...]


Flag of Jabhat al-Nusra

Click here for PDF This article seeks to explore the dynamics surrounding the various Sunni jihadi groups in the south of Syria near the border with the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, examining whether they pose a significant and imminent threat to Israel’s security. It is based on a presentation given by the author at a Rubin Center for Research in International Affairs symposium, “Israel in a Changed Middle East,” in honor of the late Prof. Barry Rubin in February 2016. … [Read more...]

Liwa al-Jalil: A New Pro-Assad Palestinian Militia

Emblem of pro-Assad militia Liwa al-Jalil, which features in the centre the name of the militia's political wing: "National Resistance Action Movement."

Emblem of Liwa al-Jalil, which features in the centre the name of the militia's political wing: "National Resistance Action Movement." In the branding of pro-Assad Palestinian militias, it is hardly surprising that there should be references to locations within the land of Palestine. Liwa al-Quds (The Jerusalem Brigade), a Palestinian militia operating in Aleppo, is one example of this phenomenon. Another example is the Quwat al-Jalil (The Galilee Forces), previously profiled at this site. … [Read more...]

A Caliphate under Strain: The Documentary Evidence

Item A: Salary scheme of $360 per month for an Islamic State member with two wives and six children in Wilayat al-Baraka (Hasakah province). It was part of a cache of documents left behind in al-Shaddadi in Hasakah province after the Islamic State lost control of the area to the Syrian Democractic Force (SDF). It was provided to the author by a Syrian Kurdish journalist who visited al-Shaddadi in February-March 2016.

Abstract: Internal Islamic State documents, including documents obtained by the author and published here for the first time, shed new light on how the Islamic State has come under strain as it is degraded by coalition air strikes and loses territory. The internal records make clear these pressures have been felt in the group's military, financial, and administrative domains, forcing it to take measures to react and adapt. But while the so-called Caliphate has come under pressure, there is … [Read more...]

The Archivist: Unseen Islamic State Military Commanders Manual: Qualities and Manners of the Mujahid Commander

Islamic State Military Commanders Manual: Qualities and Manners of the Mujahid Commander

Islamic State
Camps Administration

Qualities and manners of the mujahid commander
Appendix on military missions

Not be sold or distributed

In keeping with its statehood image, the Islamic State (IS) seeks to present its fighting forces as akin to an organized military, with a bureaucratic department known as the Diwan al-Jund (Soldiers Department) as part of the system of Diwans to cover various aspects of state governance since the declaration of the Caliphate. To be sure, there is still a considerable degree of obscurity as to the nature of organization of the military. From thedocumentary evidence, names of various battalions … [Read more...]

Defections from Harakat al-Muthanna in Deraa: Translation & Analysis

Katibat al-Murabitun statement

In my analysis on the infighting in Deraa province for Jihadology, I noted that although Harakat al-Muthanna al-Islamiya (the Islamic Muthanna Movement- HMI) is actively at war with rebel factions in the western Deraa countryside and is cooperating with the Islamic State [IS]-linked Liwa Shuhada' al-Yarmouk (Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade- LSY) in this regard, there have been no indications of infighting further east between the Deraa al-Balad (southern Deraa city) HMI contingent and rebel forces, as … [Read more...]

Analysis: The Retaking of Palmyra from the Islamic State

Temple of Bel complex in the background and the agora on left center in Palmyra, Syria, April 2010 (Source: Bernard Gagnon).

The retaking of the ancient city of Palmyra from the Islamic State (ISIS) by the Syrian regime backed with intense Russian airpower is predictably being hailed as a victory over terrorism. Symbolically, of course, the recapture of Palmyra allows for the regime and Russia to portray themselves as the defenders of civilization over barbarism, as ISIS had destroyed some of the most archaeological sites in the area last year. But what do the events tell us about Russia's broader approach towards … [Read more...]

The Fitna in Deraa and the Islamic State Angle

Syrian army checkpoint in Douma, Syria, January 2012 (Credit: Elizabeth Arrott/VOA)

International attention has justifiably focused on the recent Islamic State [IS] attacks in Brussels, but at the same time within Syria the most intense round of infighting among rebel factions in the southern province of Deraa has broken out. This fighting is said to be tied to the existence of IS cells and affiliates in Deraa, though IS itself has not said anything about the events on its official media channels, and to date there is no wilayat Deraa('Deraa province') declared in the area. So … [Read more...]