Syrian Martyrs' Brigade
|Syrian Martyrs' Brigade|
تجمع كتائب وألوية شهداء سوريا
|Participant in Syrian Civil War|
Official logo of the Syrian Martyrs' Brigade
|Active||December 2011 – present|
|Headquarters||Jabal al-Zawiya, Idlib Governorate, Syria|
|Area of operations|
Free Syrian Army|
Syria Revolutionaries Front
|Originated as||Martyrs of Jabal al-Zawiya Battalion|
|Battles and wars|
The Syrian Martyrs' Brigade (Arabic: تجمع كتائب وألوية شهداء سوريا, Shuhada Suriya), also known as the Martyrs of Syria Brigade, is a unit of the Free Syrian Army and the Syria Revolutionaries Front which is active in Idlib Governorate. The unit was formed early during the Syrian civil war in order to fight against the Syrian Government.
The Syrian Martyrs' Brigade was formed in December 2011 under the name of the Shuhada (Martyrs) Jebel al-Zawiyah Battalion, operating from the 33 villages that make up the rural Jebel al-Zawiyah region south-west of Aleppo. By July 2012, as the group expanded its size and operating territory from the Turkish border in the north to Hama in the south, it had changed its name.
Led by Jamal Maarouf (also known as Abu Khalid), who once hunted and worked in construction, and was one of the first men in the area to take up arms against the Syrian security forces, the group has grown to become one of the largest rebel factions in Idlib Governorate.
Unlike the other major rebel group that operates out of Jabal al-Zawiya, Suqour al-Sham, the Shuhada has been tied closely to the Idlib Military Council, a provincial-level military structure that integrates different rebel and revolutionary groups. The Syrian Martyrs' Brigade has traditionally relied on its support from local communities, and much of their weapons has been captured from government forces or purchased from corrupt army units, but it has been reported that the group also receives funds and weaponry from Saudi Arabia.
Popular support for the Martyrs' Brigade dwindled throughout much of 2013 due to the groups perceived lack of any defined ideology and allegations of criminality from rival rebel groups. In December 2013 Maarouf and his group became the leading figures in a new rebel alliance called the Syria Revolutionaries Front.
After placing the Syrian Air Force base at Abu al-Duhur under siege, the Syrian Martyrs' Brigade were credited with downing two MiG-21 and one MiG-23 jet fighters in August and September 2012, including one reportedly shot down by Maarouf himself.
Unlike the Salafist Suqour al-Sham, the Martyr's Brigade has been described as not motivated by any particular ideology, although the leadership comes from a background of Sunni Muslim observance and traditional rural values. The groups subunits are often named after Syrian nationalist figures rather than Islamic ones. Maarouf does not advocate an Islamic state, and is wary of Islamist groups, however his group cooperates with them on the battlefield.
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- Syrian Martyrs' Brigade on Facebook
- Syrian Martyrs' Brigade YouTube Channel
- Syria Behind the Lines, a PBS Frontline documentary featuring the brigade
- The Bombing of al-Bara, a dramatic, online film that documents the moment Mahrouf's meeting is almost hit by a government air strike