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Forces of the Fighters of the Tribes
Quwat Muqatili al-Asha'ir
Participant in the Syrian Civil War
Forces of the Fighters of the Tribes emblem.png
Emblem of the militia. Top reads: "Syrian Arab Republic. The Army and the Armed Forces- Intelligence Branch." Bottom: "Lions of the Jazeera. Forces of the Fighters of the Tribes."
Active c. 2012 – present
Groups Bayraq al-Suwayda (formerly)[1]
Leaders
  • Sheikh Turki Albu Hamad
  • Ahmad Albu Hamad
Area of
operations
Syria
Strength 1,700 (self-claim 2016)[1]
4,000 (self-claim 2017)[2]
Part of Military Intelligence Directorate (Syria)
Allies  Russia
Opponents Syrian opposition and allied mujahideen
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
Battles/wars

Syrian Civil War

The Forces of the Fighters of the Tribes (Arabic: Quwat Muqatili al-Asha'ir), are a multi-tribal militia affiliated with the Syrian Military Intelligence Directorate that is active in the Syrian Civil War. Led by Turki Albu Hamad, a member of the Arab Socialist Movement's political office, the Forces of the Fighters of the Tribes are considered to be an important factor in the Assad government's plans to retake central and eastern Syria.[1]

History

The Forces of the Fighters of the Tribes were founded by Turki Albu Hamad sometime around or after 2012, and have fought throughout much of Syria for the government. In early 2016, the Forces of the Fighters of the Tribes primarily took part in operations in the Syrian steppe and Syrian Desert such as the Ithriyah-Raqqa offensive (February–March 2016), the Palmyra offensive (March 2016), and the Battle of al-Qaryatayn (March–April 2016).[1][3] By mid-2016, the group fought at the central Syrian frontlines, where government forces were trying to progress toward al-Sukhnah. In course of these operations, disputes erupted among the Fighters of the Tribes as members of one of its sub-units, the Druze Bayraq al-Suwayda, felt that the recruitment promises were not being kept. As result, they mutinied and tried to leave Palmyra for their homes in as-Suwayda, but were detained by other Fighters of the Tribes. Eventually, the head of as-Suwayda's NDF intervened in order to ensure that they were released.[1]

Later during 2016, the Forces of the Fighters of the Tribes mostly concentrated on operations in and around Aleppo, where they fought in the last phase of the four years-long battle for the city. They helped to fully encircle the rebel-held parts of Aleppo, and then participated in Operation Dawn of Victory that saw the final defeat of the city's rebels. For their good combat performance during these engagements, the militia was praised by Zayd Ali Saleh, head of the security and military committee in Aleppo. Nevertheless, a group of about 500 Fighters of the Tribes proved in the following months to be prone to looting and harassment of Aleppo's civilian population; for this, they were transferred for disciplinary reasons to al-Khafsah. Meanwhile, the rest of the militia fought in the eastern Aleppo countryside against ISIL.[1] Around mid-2017, Turki Albu Hamad's men took part in a government campaign to retake all of central Syria.[4] When ISIL launched a major counter-attack during this campaign and overran several government positions, about 79 fighters of the militia fled north into SDF-held areas. Carrying white flags, they surrendered to the SDF in order to prevent ISIL from capturing them. The militiamen were then transferred to Kobanî while negotiations began between the SDF and government forces for their release.[2] Eventually, however, dozens of these tribal fighters decided to join the SDF instead of returning to the government, as they felt that Turki Albu Hamad had abandoned them. The commander had allegedly fled during the ISIL counter-attack while leaving his men behind.[5]

Organization and recruitment

Besides Turki Albu Hamad, the Fighters of the Tribes are also led by his brother Ahmad Albu Hamad; both of them are part of the Albu Hamad tribe of Raqqa Governorate. Their militia claims to have thousands of supporters among tribes in central Syria, and its recruits are mostly drawn from eastern Syrian tribal members (such as the Deir ez-Zor and al-Hasakah Governorates), though they also have fighters from the Aleppo, Hama, and as-Suwayda Governorates.[1]

The group is closely allied with and supported by Russia.[1]

See also

References

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