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Liwa Ahrar Souriya

The Free Men of Syria Brigade (Arabic: لواء أحرار سوريا‎; Liwa Ahrar Souriya) is a group of Syrian rebel fighters affiliated with the Free Syrian Army which was active during the Syrian Civil War, mainly around Aleppo.

Free Men of Syria Brigade
لواء أحرار سوريا
Participant in Syrian Civil War
ActiveFebruary 2012 — present
Ideology
Group(s)
Leaders
  • Ahmad Afash[3]
  • Mahmoud Afash[3]
  • Ali Belo[4]
  • Capt. Mamon Kalzi[5]
  • Abu Layla[6] (Manbij area field commander, 2012–13)
  • Muhammad Abu Adel (Manbij commander, 2013–14)[7]
HeadquartersAnadan and Azaz, Aleppo Governorate, Syria
Area of operationsAleppo Governorate and Raqqa Governorate, Syria[1]
Size
  • 2,000–2,500 (self-claim, 2013)[8][3]
  • 500 (2012)[3]
Part of
Allies
Opponent(s)
Battles and war(s)Syrian Civil War
Originated as
Free Anadan Brigade

FundingEdit

The group received funding from sources in Saudi Arabia. By 2013, it required 2 million Turkish liras (equivalent of $568456.42) daily to operate. The group also stole money and looted from warehouses in the al-Layramoun district of Aleppo and Kafr Hamrah. It also conducted kidnapping for large amounts of ransom.[3]

HistoryEdit

The group was originally formed as the Free Anadan Brigade by Ahmad Afash, a rebel from the Khalidiya district of Aleppo. It fielded 500 fighters by mid-2012 and took part in the Battle of Anadan in July 2012. After the battle, the group captured several tanks from the Syrian Army and gained influence as well as additional fighters, and changed its name to the Free Syria Brigade, or Liwa Ahrar Souriya.[3]

In late October 2012, amid infighting between the People's Protection Units and other rebel groups in Aleppo, the Free Syria Brigade abducted 120 Kurdish civilians in the area. After negotiations between the Democratic Union Party and FSA groups, they were released.[16]

In December 2012 the group signed a declaration that rejected the authority of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces and proposed to establish an Islamic state, although its leader later withdrew from the declaration and recognized the National Coalition.[1]

Free Syria Brigade fighters load (top) and fire (bottom) improvised artillery during a battle with ISIL forces in northern Aleppo in November 2015.

In September 2013, the Free Syria Brigade became a founding member group of the 16th Division. Another group in the 16th Division was the Badr Martyrs Brigade, led by Khaled Hayani. Tensions brewed between Hayani and Ahmad Afash after the Badr Martyrs Brigade clashed with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in October 2013. The Free Syria Brigade left the 16th Division in November 2013 and redeployed its fighters away from the frontlines with ISIL and toward the frontlines against the Syrian Army. The group was known to be corrupt. Among other things he did to receive money, Ahmad Afash confiscated alcohol to sell them to merchants outside Aleppo. During this time, he also acquired a Mercedes-Benz S-Class.[3]

At the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014, infighting between ISIL and other rebel groups escalated in northern Syria. During the infighting, Ahmad Afash fled to Turkey and rented a hotel in Mersin. During his stay in Turkey, Afash became a drug addict and was once hospitalized. Meanwhile in Syria, the Free Syria Brigade held out in Aleppo and its surrounding areas.[3]

On 19 May 2014, the Free Syria Brigade and the al-Nusra Front detonated a tunnel bomb in the Ancient City of Aleppo which destroyed a historic palace, which at the time was used by the Syrian Army as a military headquarter.[17]

In October 2015, during the Russian military intervention in Syria, the Free Syria Brigade headquarters in the northern Aleppo Governorate was hit by a Russian airstrike which killed 7 of its fighters.[18]

Since November 2015, the group has participated in the shelling of Aleppo's Sheikh Maqsood neighborhood, controlled by the People's Protection Units as part of the Syrian Democratic Forces.[19]

In September 2016, the Free Syria Brigade joined the Hamza Division.[12] 2 months later, on 15 November 2016, it left the Hamza Division and joined Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki north Aleppo branch, whom they in turned joined Sham Legion north aleppo branch.[20] They in turn dissolved to form the Revolutionary Knights Brigade, which is a part of the Northern Brigade that left the Sham Legion on 30 May 2017, though their current membership is unclear, and it is also unclear if they are still active.[21]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d "Aleppo and the Battle for the Syrian Revolution's Soul". Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. 4 December 2012. Retrieved 1 June 2014.
  2. ^ "22 1 Ar Raqqa, announcement of the establishment of the Kurdish Front Brigade under the leadership of the Free Syrian Army". Zajil Network. 22 January 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h ""Billionaire" Ahmad Afash: Pioneer, Thief and Founder of Free Syria Brigade". Al Akhbar. 13 December 2013.
  4. ^ "Nine leaders of the brigade are free Syria abducted by the organization "Daesh"". Orient News. 12 September 2013.
  5. ^ "Map of armed factions in Aleppo". The Republic. March 2015.
  6. ^ "Our correspondent: the banner of free Syria and Kurds dominate the front Krasan in rural Manbej". Afrin News. 6 March 2014.
  7. ^ "Mohammed Abu Adel in brief". Hawar News Agency. 18 September 2017.
  8. ^ "The Non-State Militant Landscape in Syria". Combating Terrorism Center. 27 August 2013. Retrieved 1 June 2014.
  9. ^ https://malcolmxtreme.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/levantine-front-1-30-2015.jpg
  10. ^ "Syrian Civil War factions".
  11. ^ "Factions involved in North Aleppo's Opposition/SDF Conflict". Archicivilians. 1 December 2015. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  12. ^ a b "Al-Hamza Division to RFS". Revolutionary Forces of Syria Media Office. 22 September 2016.
  13. ^ "Northern Brigade separates from Sham Legion". All4Syria. 30 May 2017.
  14. ^ a b c "YPG, allies clash with Syrian opposition groups in Aleppo". Middle East Eye. 29 November 2015. Retrieved 2 December 2015.
  15. ^ UNHRC (2013), p. 22.
  16. ^ Ivan Watson, Shiyar Sayed Mohammed and Ammar Cheikh Omar (29 October 2012). "Syria rebels, Kurdish militia discuss cease-fire". CNN.
  17. ^ "Rebels destroy 'Palace of Justice' courthouse in Aleppo's Old City". Syria:direct. 20 May 2014.
  18. ^ "Syria, Aleppo Nth rif, russian jetfighters destroyed #FSA Liwa Ahrar Suriya HQ and killed 7". Yalla Souriya. 27 October 2015.
  19. ^ "Ahrar Surya Brigade renew its declaration to continue its shelling the neighborhood of al- Sheikh Maqsoud, and impose conditions to stop it". Syria HR. 5 December 2015.
  20. ^ "Brigade Syria are free to join Noureddine Zanki movement in Aleppo and its countryside". 15 November 2016.
  21. ^ Nabih, Ibn (2 June 2017). "After being booted out, Faylaq al-Sham gave the option to Maghawir al-Islam/Liwa al-Shimal sub-factions to remain in, some accepted.pic.twitter.com/YA5QgkDL9K".

BibliographyEdit