Tag Archives: Liwa al-Tawhid

The Coalition’s Partner in Syria: The Syrian Democratic Forces

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 9 July 2017

Syrian Democratic Forces logo

The offensive to expel the Islamic State (IS) from its primary urban stronghold in Syria, Raqqa city, began on 6 November 2016 with shaping operations and commenced in earnest on 6 June 2017. Backed by the U.S.-led Coalition, the operation, known as EUPHRATES WRATH, is being carried out on the ground by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) or Quwwat Suriya al-Dimoqratiyya (QSD). The SDF is formally a coalition of Kurds and Arabs—its announcement of the Raqqa operation named eighteen distinct sub-units. But the predominant force within the SDF is the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), and the Arab SDF play a “secondary role of maintaining local security,” which is to say providing an acceptable face for the PKK’s administration in the Arab-majority areas it has captured. Examining the SDF’s composition, and the recent marginalization of Arab SDF groups, underscores the point. Continue reading

Defeat Jihadists in Syria by Being a Better Ally to the Opposition

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on March 25, 2015

A still  from the video announcing the Ahrar a-Sham-Suqour a-Sham merger

A still from the video announcing the Ahrar a-Sham-Suqour a-Sham merger

Ahrar a-Sham “merged with“—in reality annexed—Suqour a-Sham on March 22. Ahrar’s leader, Hashem al-Sheikh (a.k.a. Abu Jabbar), is the leader of the Ahrar-Suqour formation, and Suqour’s leader, Ahmed Issa al-Sheikh (a.k.a. Abu Issa) is his deputy. Ahrar is the largest and most hardline Syrian insurgent group in Syria, and Suqour has a fairly stern Salafi-nationalist ideology—at least at its leadership level—and was once the largest rebel group in Idlib Province.

The first thing this brought to mind was Sam Heller’s witticism late last year: “the most successful, lasting approach to rebel unification so far has basically been ‘Ahrar al-Sham absorbs you’.” Continue reading

WikiBaghdady Claims to Leak the Islamic State’s Secrets

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on October 8, 2014

Before the account, first published in April 2014, by an ostensible Islamic State (ISIS) defector, “Abu Ahmad”, there was the Twitter account @WikiBaghdady, which released a lot of information in the same vein about the alleged impiousness of the jihadist organization. @WikiBaghdady’s testimony, as collected by Yousef Bin Tashfin, is republished below, with some editions for transliteration and syntax, to ensure its preservation. Continue reading

What Now For Ahrar a-Sham?

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on September 10, 2014

Ahrar a-Sham's leader, Hassan Abboud

Ahrar a-Sham’s leader, Hassan Abboud

 

A mysterious explosion decapitated the Syrian rebel group Ahrar a-Sham on September 9. This could have major implications for the rebellion as a whole.
Continue reading

Are There Any Good Guys Left In Syria?

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on May 30, 2014

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The short answer is “yes”. The longer answer is, “It depends on how good you want,” and discovering the answer to that relies on having a strategic vision of what you want from Syria. Continue reading