جيش الإسلام |
Participant in the Syrian Civil War
Official logo of Jaysh al-Islam
2011–2013 (as Liwa al-Islam)|
2013–present (as united faction)
|Founding leader||Zahran Alloush †|
|Military leader||Essam al-Buwaydhani (2015–present)|
|Political leader||Mohammed Alloush|
|Headquarters||Eastern Ghouta, in the Damascus suburb of Otaybah|
|Area of operations||
Damascus, Rif Dimashq, and Homs Governorate, Syria
Islamic Front |
Mujahideen Shura Council
Syrian Revolutionary Command Council
Unified Military Command of Eastern Ghouta
|Originated as||Liwa al-Islam (Arabic: لواء الإسلام)|
|Battles and wars|
Jaysh al-Islam (Arabic: جيش الإسلام, meaning Army of Islam), formerly known as Liwa al-Islam (Brigade of Islam), is a coalition of Islamist and Salafist units involved in the Syrian Civil War. Its primary base of operations has been the Damascus area, particularly the city of Douma and region of Eastern Ghouta. Jaysh al-Islam is the largest rebel faction in the area, as was Liwa al-Islam. The group was a part of the Islamic Front. The organization has rejected membership of the Free Syrian Army. The group along with Ahrar ash-Sham are the main rebel groups supported by Saudi Arabia. The group aims to create an Islamic state under Sharia law.
Liwa al-Islam was established by Zahran Alloush, the son of Saudi-based religious scholar Abdullah Mohammed Alloush, after Syrian authorities released him from prison in mid-2011, where he had been serving time for his Salafist activism. The group claimed responsibility for carrying out the July 2012 Damascus bombing that killed Defense Minister Dawoud Rajiha, Deputy Defense Minister Asef Shawkat, and Assistant Vice President Hassan Turkmani. Liwa al-Islam was a driving force behind actions in the Damascus region. It cooperated and conducted joint operations with the Al-Nusra Front.
Merger to form Jaysh al-Islam
On 29 September 2013, 50 rebel factions operating mostly around Damascus announced they were merging into a new group called Jaysh al-Islam. Liwa al-Islam was the dominant faction in this merger, and its leader Zahran Alloush was announced as the leader of Jaysh al-Islam. Thirty-eight of the original groups listed as joining the merger were already members of, or affiliated with, Liwa al Islam. By November 2013, 60 groups had merged into Jaysh al-Islam, and more than 175 rebel groups around Syria expressed a desire to join it.
The new group's creation was said to have been negotiated and spearheaded by Saudi Arabia, who believed that Al-Nusra Front was gaining too much strength. After the merger, The Guardian reported that Saudi Arabia was preparing to give the group millions of dollars to "arm and train" its fighters, and use instructors from Pakistan to help train the group. Jaysh al-Islam has criticized the Syrian National Coalition, stating that the group should be led by those who are fighting in Syria rather than leaders in exile. On 26 April 2015, they established the Fatah Halab joint operations room along with other major Aleppo based groups.
The Islamic Front criticized ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), saying: "They killed the people of Islam and leave the idol worshippers" and "They use the verses talking about the disbelievers and implement it on the Muslims".
In 2013, Alloush gave a speech attacking the Shi'ites, whom he called "Rafidis", the Alawites and "the Zoroastrians", saying "the mujahideen of the Levant will cleanse the Levant of the filth of Rafidis and Rafidism, they will cleanse it for ever God willing, till they will cleanse the land of the Levant of the filth of the Fireworshippers who fought the religion of God Almighty", "the Shi'a are still despicable and pitiful through history", "And I give you the news, oh filthy Rafidis: Just as the Umayyads crushed your heads in the past, the people of Ghouta and the Levant will crush them soon, they will make you taste a painful torment in this world, before God makes you taste it in the hereafter".
Alloush has denounced democracy and called for an Islamic state to succeed Assad, however in a May 2015 interview with McClatchy journalists, Alloush used moderate rhetoric, claiming that Syrians should decide what sort of state they wanted to live under and that Alawites were “part of the Syrian people” and only those with blood on their hands should be held accountable. His spokesman went on to claim that the sectarian and Islamist rhetoric Alloush had previously made was only intended for internal consumption and to rally his fighters.
Terrorist Group Accusations
Jaysh al-Islam has been designated as a terrorist organization by Syria, Russia, Iran, and Egypt. At the June 28, 2016 Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado, John Kerry, perhaps accidentally, referred to Jaysh al-Islam as one of several "subgroups" of terrorist groups, saying
But the most important thing, frankly, is seeing if we can reach an understanding with the Russians about how to, number one, deal with Daesh and al-Nusrah. Al-Nusrah is the other group there – Jabhat al-Nusrah. They are a designated terrorist group by the United Nations. And there are a couple of subgroups underneath the two designated – Daesh and Jabhat al-Nusrah – Jaysh al-Islam, Ahrar al-Sham particularly – who brush off and fight with that – alongside these other two sometimes to fight the Assad regime.
before which he had said of Jaysh al-Islam that
From Orlando to San Bernardino to the Philippines and Bali, we’ve seen pictures and we’ve heard testimony of shocking crimes committed by al-Qaida, by Boko Haram, by Jaysh al-Islam, by Ahrar al-Sham, by al-Shabaab, Daesh, other groups against innocent civilians, against journalists, and against teachers particularly.
These statements had political repercussions with one senior administration official reportedly saying that despite the fact that “for months, we’ve been arguing to make sure the Russians and the Syrian regime don’t equate these groups with the terrorists, Kerry’s line yields that point.” Explaining these comments, US State Department spokesman John Kirby said that "secretary Kerry was simply trying to describe the complexity of the situation in Syria, noting that we aren’t blind to the notion that some fighters shift their loyalties."
Capture of sophisticated equipment
On 6 October 2012, Liwa al-Islam captured two 9K33 Osa SAM systems in Eastern Ghouta with at least 12 missiles total. A video was posted on 29 July 2013, with it being used to shoot down a Syrian Mil Mi-8. In November 2013, the group captured two training-jets (L-39s used by the government as jet fighters) from the Syrian Air Force and showed them on the runway. But so far, they haven't been used in combat.
Filmed execution of ISIL members
On 30 June 2015, Jaysh al-Islam's website published a 20-minute video that showed its fighters executing 18 alleged ISIL militants by shotgun. The video mimics the imagery that ISIL has used for similar filmed executions; however, it reversed the imagery by having the executioners wearing orange prisoner outfits and the victims being dressed in black robes. The video, which included some English subtitles, stated the killings were in revenge for recent beheadings of captured Jaysh al-Islam fighters by ISIL.
Attack on Adra Prison
In August and September, 2015, Jaysh al-Islam shelled and stormed Adra Prison. As of September 12, 2015, it had taken control of two buildings.
Use of captives as human shields
On November 1, 2015, an opposition media outlet, Shaam News Network, posted a video showing Jaysh al-Islam militants had locked people in cages and spread out 100 cages containing about 7 captives each through Eastern Ghouta, northeast of Damascus, to use them as human shields against Syrian government air raids. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the caged people being used as human shields were captured Alawite military officers and their families who had been kidnapped by Jaish al-Islam two years ago outside Adra al-Ummaliyah, a government-held neighbourhood in Eastern Ghouta.
December 25 airstrike
On December 25, 2015, the group's founder Zahran Alloush was killed, along with several other leaders of the group, in a Syrian air strike on the suburbs of Damascus. Abu Hammam Bouwaidani succeeded him as leader.
Since the death of Zahran Alloush there have been conflicts between Jaysh al-Islam and other members of the Unified Military Command of Eastern Ghouta, along with associated groups such as Al-Nusra Front and it's Jaish Al-Fustat operations room. Ahrar ash-Sham have remained neutral.
On 24th May 2016 leaders of Jaysh al-Islam & al-Rahman Legion met to sign a peace deal to end hostilities.
Use of chemical weapons
On April 7, 2016, the Sheikh Maqsood neighborhood in Aleppo was shelled with mortars containing chemical agents. On April 8, a spokesman for the rebel group admitted that “forbidden” weapons had been used against Kurdish militia and civilians in Aleppo. He stated that “One of our commanders has unlawfully used a type of weapon that is not included in our list”. He did not specify what substances were used but, according to Red Crescent, the symptoms are consistent with the use of chlorine gas or other agents. Welat Memo, a physician with the Kurdish Red Crescent said that the people affected are "vomiting and having difficulty in breathing."
- "Syria crisis: Saudi Arabia to spend millions to train new rebel force". The Guardian. 7 November 2013. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
- O'Bagy, Elizabeth (24 March 2013). "The Free Syrian Army" (PDF). Institute for the Study of War. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
- Kareem Shaheen and Agencies (25 December 2015). "Leader of powerful Syrian rebel group killed in airstrike". The Guardian.
- Lister 2015, p. 344.
- "Syria conflict: Islamist rebel named opposition chief negotiator". BBC News. 20 January 2016. Retrieved 24 February 2016.
- Lister 2015, p. 168.
- "Rise of Jaish al-Islam marks a turn in Syria conflict". Middle East Eye. 7 May 2015. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
- "Syria conflict: Essam al-Buwaydhani named leader of rebel group Army of Islam". International Business Times. 26 December 2015. Retrieved 26 December 2015.
- "Jaysh al-Islam confronts Islamic State in Arsal". Al Monitor. 5 February 2015. Retrieved 5 February 2015.
- "Syria Direct: News Update 4-20-15". Retrieved 20 April 2015.
- "Islamist rebel leader walks back rhetoric in first interview with Western media". 20 May 2015. Retrieved 20 May 2015.
He claims that his Army of Islam has 10,000 fighters in the suburbs of Damascus and another 7,000 scattered elsewhere in Syria
- "The Army of Islam: Militant group battling ISIS and the Syrian regime show their might in 'graduation ceremony' featuring 1,700 soldiers and a fleet of armoured tanks". Daily Mail. 30 April 2015. Retrieved 4 July 2015.
- "The Dawn of Freedom Brigades: Analysis and Interview". 2 October 2014. Retrieved 14 June 2016.
- Lund, Aron. "Islamist Mergers in Syria: Ahrar al-Sham Swallows Suqour al-Sham". Retrieved 14 June 2016.
- "Leading Syrian rebel groups form new Islamic Front". BBC. 22 November 2013. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
- "New Syrian jihadist body formed to fight ISIS". Al Monitor. 28 May 2014. Retrieved 3 June 2014.
- "Translation: the Formation of the Syrian Revolutionary Command Council". Goha's Nail. 3 August 2014. Retrieved 6 August 2014.
- "The wars of the Eastern Ghouta grind on". The Daily Star Newspaper - Lebanon.
- "Ivan Sidorenko on Twitter". Retrieved 14 June 2016.
- "معركة رد المظالم (@Rd_Almzalm) - Twitter". Retrieved 14 June 2016.
- Adra, Zen (18 April 2016). "Field report: Islamist rebels attack Syrian Army in Hama. Map Update". Retrieved 14 June 2016.
- "Insight: Saudi Arabia boosts Salafist rivals to al Qaeda in Syria". Reuters. 1 October 2013. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
- Orango, Tim (12 October 2015). "Deadly Ankara Attack Not Enough to Unify a Polarized Turkey". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
- "No regime offensive in Qalamoun, rebel official claims". NOW News. 18 November 2013. Retrieved 19 November 2013.
- Aron Lund (24 September 2013). "New Islamist Bloc Declares Opposition to National Coalition and US Strategy". Syria Comment. Retrieved 7 November 2013.
- "Freedom, Human Rights, Rule of Law: The Goals and Guiding Principles of the Islamic Front and Its Allies". Democratic Revolution, Syrian Style. 17 May 2014. Retrieved 17 May 2014.
- "5 facts about Jaysh al-Islam, group that used chem weapons in Syria & has delegate at UN peace talks". Retrieved 14 June 2016.
- "Al-Akrad Front defeats ISIL in Aleppo". ARA News. 24 June 2014. Retrieved 24 June 2014.
- "ISIL militants.. on way to Damascus". ARA News. 10 July 2014. Retrieved 10 July 2014.
- "Jaysh Al-Islam Terrorists Admit to Attacking Kurds With Chemical Weapons". Sputnik. Retrieved 14 June 2016.
- "Jihadists of ISIS and Qaeda attack Syrian rebels in Damascus". ARA News. 3 April 2015. Retrieved 2 April 2015.
- Jocelyn, Thomas (23 April 2015). "Al Nusrah Front, allies launch new offensives against Syrian regime". Long War Journal.
- "Syria army 'tightens siege of rebel bastion near Damascus'". AFP. 3 May 2015. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
- "Largest Syrian rebel groups form Islamic alliance, in possible blow to U.S. influence". Washington Post. 25 September 2013. Retrieved 7 November 2013.
- "Leading Syrian rebels defect, dealing blow to fight against al-Qaeda". Daily Telegraph. 5 December 2013. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
- "REPORT The Road to a Syria Peace Deal Runs Through Russia". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
- "THE SYRIAN OPPOSITION'S POLITICAL DEMANDS". Institute for Study of War.
- "MAPPING MILITANT ORGANIZATIONS: Jaish al-Islam". Stanford University. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
- Aron Lund (17 June 2013). "Freedom fighters? Cannibals? The truth about Syria's rebels". The Independent. Retrieved 7 November 2013.
- "The Army of Islam Is Winning in Syria". Foreign Policy Magazine. 1 October 2013. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
- "Total of 43 Islamist Groups Unite under Newly Formed "Army of Islam" in Syria". YouTube. 29 September 2013. Retrieved 7 November 2013.
- "Assessing Syria's Islamic Alliance". Revolution Observer. 11 October 2013. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
- "GUEST POST: On Liwa al-Islam and the new 'Jaysh al-Islam' merger". Pundicity. 30 September 2013. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
- "Syria: Jaysh Al-Islam rejects Geneva II conference". Asharq Al-Awsat. 12 November 2013. Retrieved 15 November 2013.
- "Saudi Arabia's Shadow War". Foreign Policy. 6 November 2013. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
- Uncover the Mask with Evidence and Confidence كشف القناع بالحجة ولإقناع داعش. YouTube. 8 March 2015.
- Sam Prince. "WATCH: Men in Orange Jumpsuits Execute ISIS With Shotguns". Heavy.com. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
- Joshua Landis. "Zahran Alloush: His Ideology and Beliefs". Retrieved 31 March 2016.
- "Islamist rebel leader walks back rhetoric in first interview with Western media". 20 May 2015. Retrieved 25 May 2015.
- Syrian Rebel Leader Changes His Conservative Rhetoric in First Talk With an American Newspaper. YouTube. 22 May 2015. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
- "Syria Comment » Archives "Is Zahran Alloush in Amman?" by Aron Lund - Syria Comment". Syria Comment. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
- Chris Tomson (21 January 2016). "Saudi Arabia blocks peace talks on Syria". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 16 February 2016.
- "Remarks at the Aspen Ideas Festival and Conversation with Walter Isaacson". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
- "Kerry touts the Russian line on Syrian rebel groups". Retrieved 4 September 2016.
- "Daily Press Briefing - July 12, 2016". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
- Liwa al-Islam and her 9K33 Osa 31 July 2013. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
- Video of 9K33 Osa shooting down SAF helicopter. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
- "Islamist rebel air force takes off in Syria". Times of Israel. 3 November 2013. Retrieved 19 November 2013.
- "Syrian rebels filmed shooting Islamic State militants". BBC News. 1 July 2015. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
- The Australian: "Syrian rival jihadi group, Jaysh al-Islam, execute ISIS fighters in brutal role reversal video" July 05, 2015
- "Insurgents shell main prison near Syrian capital, killing 10". The Daily Star. 2015-08-23.
- "11 dead in rebel shelling on Damascus: activists". The Daily Star. 12 September 2015.
- "Rebels storm Syria's largest prison near Damascus: monitor". 2015-09-11.
- Robert Mackey, Maher Samaan (1 November 2015). "Caged Hostages From Syrian President's Sect Paraded Through Rebel-Held Suburb". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
- Euan McLelland (3 November 2015). "Hundreds of women locked in cages to act as human shields against Assad's air-strikes: Rebels parade families loyal to president through streets as horrifying deterrent". Daily Mail. Retrieved 8 November 2015.
- "Monitor: Syria rebels using caged captives as 'human shields'". Al-Arabiya Network. 1 November 2015. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
- "Syrian rebel leaders 'die in air strike'". BBC News. Retrieved December 25, 2015.
- Kareem Shaheen (25 December 2015). "Leader of powerful Syrian rebel group killed in airstrike". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
- "Russian raids kill prominent Syrian rebel commander". Al-Jazeera. 25 December 2015. Retrieved 25 December 2015.
- "Is Jabhat al-Nusra behind Ghouta demonstrations?". 3 July 2015. Retrieved 14 June 2016.
- Lund, Aron. "After Zahran: Rising Tension in the East Ghouta". Retrieved 14 June 2016.
- "Rebel allies fight each other in east Damascus: monitor". Retrieved 14 June 2016.
- Szakola, Albin. "Rebel heavyweights clash outside Damascus". Retrieved 14 June 2016.
- "Elijah J. Magnier on Twitter". Retrieved 14 June 2016.
- "Charles Lister on Twitter". Retrieved 14 June 2016.
- "Syrian Islamist group Jaysh al-Islam admits using banned weapons against Kurds in Aleppo". RT. 7 April 2016.
- "Kurdish Officials: Rebels May Have Used Chemicals in Aleppo". Voice of America. Retrieved 11 April 2016.
Lister, Charles R. (2015). The Syrian Jihad: Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State and the Evolution of an Insurgency. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-019046247-5.