Army of Revolutionaries
|Army of Revolutionaries|
جيش الثوار |
Participant in the Syrian Civil War
Official logo of Jaysh al-Thuwar
Jaysh al-Thuwar flag
|Active||3 May 2015 – present|
|Headquarters||Tel Rifaat, Aleppo Governorate|
|Area of operations|
|Strength||3,000 fighters (claimed)|
|Battles and wars|
The Army of Revolutionaries (Arabic: جيش الثوار), or Jaysh al-Thuwar, is a multi-ethnic armed rebel coalition in Syria that is allied with the primarily Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) and participating in the Syrian Civil War.
Established in May 2015, with presences in six provinces, it was considered an ambitious grouping uniting Arabs, Kurds, and Turkmens. With its stated aims to fight both the Syrian regime and ISIL, it was expected to become one of the more relevant rebel alliances in northern Syria, consolidating the democratic rebel spectrum. It was considered as one of the "potential powerbrokers" in the Aleppo, Hama, Idlib, and Latakia Provinces.
Though considering itself a part of the rebel mainstream and having turned down the U.S. Train-and-Equip-Program because it wanted to be able to fight the regime as well as ISIL, Jaysh al-Thuwar has always been allied with the Syrian Kurdish YPG. It therefore did not receive Turkish support, and became embroiled in open conflict with Islamists, both hard-line and more moderate.
Subsequently, Jaysh al-Thuwar retreated from rebel-held areas and further deepened its bonds with the YPG. In October 2015, it became one of the constituents of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), increasingly integrating with the SDF's common frontlines against ISIL and other Islamist forces.
Established on 3 May 2015, many of its members belonged to the now defunct Hazzm Movement and the northern branch of the Syria Revolutionaries Front, which were defeated by al-Nusra and allied forces in Idlib and Aleppo. In an October 2015 publication, the Washington D.C.-based Institute for the Study of War considered Jaysh al-Thuwar as one of the "potential powerbrokers" in Aleppo province, where it is part of the Euphrates Volcano joint operations room, as well as in Hama, Idlib and Latakia provinces, though not in Homs province.
- Northern Sun Battalion
- Jabhat al-Akrad
- 99th Infantry Brigade (former component of the Syria Revolutionaries Front)
- Special Forces Brigade
- Martyr Yusuf al-Quzhul Brigade
- Southern Storm Brigade
- Eagles of the Sunnah Brigade
- Truthful Promise Brigade
- Fighters for Justice Brigade
- 777th Regiment (former)
- Sultan Selim Brigade (part of the Syrian Turkmen Brigades) (former)
- Homs Revolutionary Union (former)
- Atarib Martyrs Brigade (former component of the Hazm Movement, former)
- Descendants of Othman Brigade (former)
- Brigade 313 – Free Men of Aqrab (former)
Additional groups that joined later
- Seljuk Brigade, August 2015
- Martyr Qasim Areef Battalion, February 2016
- Tel Rifaat Rebel Battalion, June 2016
- Northern Democratic Brigade, August 2016 (formerly part of Liwa Ahrar Souriya and the SRF) Later they left JaT to become an independent group within' the SDF.
- 1st Homs Commandos Brigade, August 2016 (formerly part of the SRF)
- Quwat al-Ashair (Tribal Forces), 2016
Battles and territorial presences
Jaysh al-Thuwar did not apply to join the American Train-and-Equip-Program because it declined to restrict itself to fighting ISIL. The Army subsequently released videos of them fighting both against the Syrian Army in Aleppo and the northern Homs pocket, as well as against ISIL in Mare', Kobanê and northern Raqqah.
It controlled territory to the west of Azaz, bordering the Kurdish-held Afrin Canton, and claimed further presences in the Rashidin neighborhood of Aleppo, as well as in Tell Malah and al-Ghab Plain areas in northern Hama, and sleeper cells in Manbij area.
Jaysh al-Thuwar claims to have a presence in the Idlib Governorate. Pro-rebel media has claimed that the group has cells in Ariha that conducted assassinations and "kidnapping operations" in the Idlib countryside and 12 of them were reportedly captured by the Army of Conquest in March 2016.
Integration into Syrian Democratic Forces
In spite of occasional denials, the coalition has always been closely allied with the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG). The coalition was therefore met with distrust by more Islamist rebel factions and became embroiled in open conflict with hard-line Islamists such as the al-Nusra Front.
The Army of Revolutionaries did not qualify for any support by Turkey, but neither did it receive any U.S. support. With weaponry considered "sparse by even Syrian standards", the coalition early began to disintegrate. Further deepening bonds with the YPG and other anti-ISIL forces, it established the Syrian Democratic Forces in October. Subsequently, its constituents became involved in clashes with Islamist FSA-groups of the Fatah Halab and Mare' operation rooms. According to observers, it therefore withdrew its presence from rebel-held areas, refocusing on the Syrian Democratic Forces' joint front lines.
Since the establishment of the SDF, additional groups of various sizes have joined Jaysh al-Thuwar and its sub-factions.
- Hasan Mustafa (16 November 2015). "An Analysis of Jaish al-Thuwar (The Army of Revolutionaries) – A Component of the Syrian Democratic Forces". Hasan Mustafa. Retrieved 16 February 2016.
- "YPG, allies clash with Syrian opposition groups in Aleppo". Middle East Eye. 29 November 2015.
- ""بركان الفرات" تسيطر على ثمان قرى في ريف مدينة تل أبيض بالرقة". ARA News. 31 May 2015. Retrieved 25 September 2015.
- "Why Jaish al-Thuwar was bombarded by Turkey". Al-Monitor. 18 February 2016.
- "Rivals of ISIS Attack U.S.-Backed Syrian Rebel Group". NY Times. 31 July 2015.
- Jennifer Cafarella; Genevieve Casagrande (7 October 2015). "Syrian Opposition Guide" (PDF). Backgrounder. Institute for the Study of War: 16, 20, 23, 25, 27. Note that ar-Raqqa province was not covered by the study.
- "Jaysh Al-Fateh Militants Behead a Man Accused of Spying". al-Masdar News. 1 December 2015. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
- "List of groups joining Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)". Ethnic Map of Kurd. 8 July 2016.
- Syria_Rebel_Obs (11 November 2016). "EXCLUSIVE - After long work with local contacts, can now make #SDF Liwa al-Shamal al-Democrati : it's former #Idlib Liwa al-Qaqaa" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- "Brive Aleppo rebel army mourns brigade commander commando Homs". ARA News. 2 November 2016.
- "Jaysh al-Fatth captures a Jaysh al-Thuwar cell". Orient News. 31 March 2016.
- Official website (Arabic)