Military Wiki
Descendants of Saladin Brigade
لواء أحفاد صلاح الدين
Liwa Ahfad Saladin

Participant in the Syrian Civil War
Liwa Ahfad Saladin variant opposition flag.svg
A variant of the Syrian opposition flag used by Liwa Ahfad Saladin, in addition to the flag of Kurdistan and the regular independence flag
Active 2015–July 2017[1]
Ideology Syrian nationalism
Islamic democracy
Leaders Mahmoud Khallo (nom de guerre "Abu Hamza")[2]
Headquarters Azaz and Mare'
Area of
Aleppo Governorate
Strength 600 (2016)
Part of

Syrian opposition Free Syrian Army

  • Division 99 (2016)
Hawar Kilis Operations Room
  • Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
  • Syrian Democratic Forces
  • Ahrar al-Sham (sometimes)[4]
  • Levant Front (July 2017)[3]
  • Battles/wars

    Syrian Civil War

    The Descendants of Saladin Brigade (Arabic language: لواء أحفاد صلاح الدين‎; Liwa Ahfad Saladin), was a Free Syrian Army group active in the northern Aleppo Governorate. The group was supported by Turkey and was initially funded and armed by the United States,[3] mainly fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant but also opposing the Syrian government and the Syrian Democratic Forces, led by the People's Protection Units and including the Army of Revolutionaries, which includes the Kurdish Front, another Kurdish FSA group.[2] The brigade was disbanded by the Turkish Army in 2017, following disagreements over the participation in a planned Turkish-led offensive against Afrin Canton.[1]

    Named after the Kurdish founder of the Ayyubid dynasty, Saladin, the group claimed to have 600 members, primarily Kurdish, with one third of its fighters being Arabs and Syrian Turkmen, in addition to one Christian and one Alawite fighter. They along with the Dhi Qar Brigade were part of Division 99 in 2016.[5] The Dhi Qar Brigade later left to join the Hamza Division.

    Members of the Descendants of Saladin Brigade were described as "gangs" by the pro-SDF newspapers such as Hawar News Agency.[6][7] ARA News reported in April 2017 that the group had "minimal support" among Kurds in Syria and only had a "small number of fighters".[4]


    The Descendants of Saladin Brigade opposes the Federation of Northern Syria declared by the Syrian Democratic Forces and claims not to be secular, instead claiming to support civil democracy with equal rights for all ethnicities. It also claim the Democratic Union Party (PYD) to be a proxy of the Syrian government.[5]

    While being "absolutely" opposed to the PYD, the group opposes an attack against the mainly PYD-controlled Afrin Canton. The group's leader, Mahmoud Khallo, claimed that other Turkish-backed rebel groups have "hatred towards the Kurds", and feared potential massacres of Kurds if they launched an offensive against Afrin.[3]


    Some time when the group was active, its leader, Mahmoud Khallo, was imprisoned by the YPG for 19 months.[1]

    In March 2016 Ahrar ash-Sham ordered the group to take down the flag of Kurdistan from its headquarters and threatened military force.[8] However, the group's commander, Mahmoud Khallo, denied the incident ever occurred and claimed Ahrar ash-Sham to be its ally.[5]

    The Descendants of Saladin Brigade participated in the offensive to capture the city of al-Bab and the town of Qabasin as part of the Turkish military intervention in Syria in late 2016 and early 2017. As part of its participation, the group requested Turkey to allow the flag of Kurdistan to be raised in Qabasin.[9] On 3 April 2017, Ahrar al-Sham reportedly attacked the group in Qabasin and captured more than 8 of their fighters, including a commander. Hours later, the prisoners were released after negotiations, although tensions between the two groups remain.[4]

    On 15 May 2017, the commander of the group, Mahmoud Khallo, was arrested by Turkey. This "soured" the group's relations with Turkey.[1]

    On 3 July 2017, Mahmoud Khallo declared that his unit would not participate in a planned Turkish-led offensive against the SDF in the Afrin Canton and the Shahba region.[10] Following the announcement, the group was attacked by multiple Turkish-backed groups, which captured the group's positions and warehouses with vehicles and equipment. On 14 July, Khallo himself was captured by the Levant Front, which accused him of affiliation with both al-Qaeda and the Democratic Union Party (PYD), and was tortured. The Levant Front then handed him over to Turkish security forces, who interrogated him.[3] After being released soon after, Khallo protested against his unit's treatment and criticized that Turkey was apparently only interested in using the Syrian militias to further its own strategic goals. He also said that Liwa Ahfad Saladin, now without weapons, would set up a political party.[1]

    See also


    1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Lars Hauch (5 July 2017). "Syria war: Turkey 'disbands rebel battalion' as alliances collapse" (in en). Middle East Eye. 
    2. 2.0 2.1 "Kurd turns on Kurd as Turkey backs new faction in Syria". Middle East Eye. 16 March 2016. 
    3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 "‘Afrin is a red line’: Kurdish FSA commander loses his faction after refusing to fight". Syria:direct. 23 August 2017. Retrieved 23 August 2017. 
    4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Wladimir van Wilgenburg (5 April 2017). "Tensions increase between Turkey-backed rebels in Northern Aleppo". ARA News. 
    5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "Commander of Kurdish FSA brigade: ‘Federalism is not an effective system for Syria’". Syria:direct. 11 April 2016. 
    6. "BARZAN'İ DESTEKLİ ENKS ÇETELERİ 10'DAN FAZLA KÜRDÜ KATLETTİ". AmedToday Haber. Retrieved 15 November 2016. 
    7. "SUK ve ENKS çeteleri YPG mevzisine saldırdı" (in Turkish). Hawar News Agency. Retrieved 15 November 2016. 
    8. "Syrian rebels ban Kurdish flag in Aleppo". ARA News. 27 March 2016. 
    9. "Commander of the descendants of Saladin: the Kurdish flag is raised in Turkey and Qabasin approval". Al-Etihad Press. 31 March 2017. 
    10. Wladimir van Wilgenburg (4 July 2017). "Turkey-backed rebel group refuses to attack Kurdish town north Syria". ARA News. 

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