Sultan Pasha al-Atrash Battalion

The Sultan Pasha al-Atrash Battalion (Arabic: كتيبة سلطان باشا الاطرش) was an armed Syrian rebel group affiliated with the Free Syrian Army that operated in southern Syria during the first 3 years of the Syrian Civil War. The group consisted of rebels from the Druze community in Syria, particularly in the Suwayda Governorate. The group disbanded in the beginning of 2014 after frequent attacks on it by Sunni Islamist groups, particularly al-Qaeda's al-Nusra Front.[2]

Sultan Pasha al-Atrash Battalion
Arabic: كتيبة سلطان باشا الاطرش
Dates of operationNovember 2011–January 2014
Active regions
IdeologySyrian nationalism
Part ofSyrian opposition Free Syrian Army
  • Suwayda Revolutionary Military Council[4]



The founder and first commander of the group was First Lieutenant Khaldoun Sami Zinedine, a defector from the Syrian Armed Forces. Zinedine defected near Damascus, moved to the Daraa Governorate,[1] and joined the Free Officers Brigade in October 2011.[5] In December 2011, he announced the formation of the Sultan Pasha al-Atrash Battalion.[6] The group stated that its goal was to protect demonstrators in and around Suwayda.[7] In July 2012, the group blew up a Syrian Air Force ammunition depot in the Thula Military Airbase near Suwayda.[6]

In January 2013, the Sultan Pasha al-Atrash Battalion launched an offensive against Syrian government forces in Dahr al-Jabal, near Suwayda. On 23 January, 1st Lt. Khaldoun Zinedine was killed in action during the offensive, which was repelled by government forces and a number of his fighters were "wiped out".[8] After his death, Khaldoun was succeeded by his brother, 1st Lt. Fadlallah Zinedine, as the commander of the group.[1]

Tensions between the group and Sunni Islamist groups cumulated through 2013. The group initially cooperated with the Dawn of Islam Brigade in Daraa.[9] In October 2013, 2 fighters from the Sultan Pasha al-Atrash Battalion were captured by the "Sharia Commission in Daraa" and sentenced to death.[4] Some time in late 2013, 1st Lt. Fadlallah Zinedine was captured and detained for several hours by al-Qaeda's al-Nusra Front in Daraa.[2]

In January 2014, the Sultan Pasha al-Atrash Battalion announced that it would suspend all of its operations in Syria and leave for Jordan. It cited the lack of support for the Suwayda Military Council and other Druze rebel groups from the Supreme Military Council, the "conspiracy of radical Islamists" and "hostilities" toward the people of Suwayda in general.[2]

See also



  1. ^ a b c Marlin Dick (24 January 2013). "Uprising's first Druze defector declared dead". The Daily Star (Lebanon). Archived from the original on 14 October 2017. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d "The "Sultan Al Atrash" battalion announces from Jordan the cessation of its military operations". Zaman al-Wasl. 12 January 2014.
  3. ^ "Swaida: 1st Lt. Amira Abu-Husayb announces joining the Free Syrian Army (VIDEO)". Anbaa Online. 22 March 2013.
  4. ^ a b c "Sedition Between Druze and Sunni Fighters". All4Syria. 10 October 2013. Archived from the original on 7 October 2017. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  5. ^ Hassan Hassan (13 March 2013). "How the Muslim Brotherhood Hijacked Syria's Revolution". Foreign Policy.
  6. ^ a b "Al-Suwayda". The Creative Memory of the Syrian Revolution.
  7. ^ "Sultan Pasha Al-Atrash Battalion: We are part of the "Free Army"". 9 April 2012.
  8. ^ Gary C. Gambill (11 March 2013). "Syrian Druze: Toward Defiant Neutrality". Foreign Policy Research Institute.
  9. ^ Nour Samaha (22 June 2015). "Trapped Between Assad, Israel, and al Qaeda". Foreign Policy.