Who are the rebels in southern Syria?

By AFP – Jun 30,2018 – JORDAN TIMES

BEIRUT, Lebanon — The rebels in southern Syria targeted by a major government offensive were long supported by Washington and seen as symbolising relatively moderate opposition to Damascus.

Seven years after the conflict erupted, they are a constellation of small, mostly local groups scattered across a highly sensitive region bordering Jordan and the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights.


A number of factions united in 2014 to form the “Southern Front”, a 30,000-strong coalition of 55 brigades that soon seized a string of bases and positions in Daraa and Quneitra provinces.

The groups had close links with the United States as well as neighbouring Jordan, where many fighters were trained.

The United States and Jordan negotiated directly with Russia in July 2017 when a now defunct so-called de-escalation deal was reached.

“Israel has also provided support to southern armed factions since either 2013 or 2014 in an apparent attempt to cultivate local partners and secure a buffer zone on its border,” the International Crisis Group (ICG) said in a recent report.


Unity crumbled gradually within the rebel coalition and the south is now home to myriad separate outfits, unlike the Eastern Ghouta former rebel bastion near Damascus that long remained ruled by three main groups.

“Southern rebels have no single command, although they continue to coordinate laterally to some extent,” the ICG think tank wrote.

According to Rami Abdel Rahman, who heads the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, around 30,000 armed men remain in southern Syria.

He estimated that more than half of them had received US or Jordanian training, adding that the best staffed and equipped among them were Jaish Al Thawra and Shahab Al Sunna.

The Salafist group Ahrar Al Sham, which has received backing from Saudi Arabia, also has a presence in Daraa province.


According to the observatory, rebels control about 60 per cent of Daraa province, whose capital is split in four rebel districts and one held by the government.

Rebels control about 70 per cent of the neighbouring province of Quneitra, wedged between Daraa and the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, while the government holds almost all of Sweida province, further east.

Extremist groups also have a presence on the southern front, in the form of Jaish Khaled bin Al Walid, an organisation that has pledged allegiance to the Daesh militant group.

According to the observatory, it has around 1,000 men and its bastion is located in the southwest of Daraa province.

Its leaders have been repeatedly targeted in Israeli air strikes.

Hayat Tahrir Al Sham, a group made up mostly of ex-members of the former Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria, also has a few hundred men in the region.



8 replies

  1. Of course the Southern rebels were supported by USA and Israel. Jordan had to permit the transit of the aid and weapons and ammunitions to them. I have personally seen their wounded in a Jordan hospital. One doctor showed me a healed wound explaining that ‘I fixed this injury six months ago and now he is back with new injuries’. In other words the rebels were / are treated in Jordan (and Israel) and sent back to fight again. btw: the hospital bills were paid by Qatar. The USA is known to pressure its oil-rich-Arabs to pay for whatever they want them to pay for.

  2. Well it’s no surprise, US is known for militants disposal in the wrong part of the world and when it back fires like in the case of Bin Laden, then they forget they trained him and used him and disposed of him, instead they just blame Islam. Let’s just hope and pray this ends well.

    • as the actual ‘aim of the game’ is destabilization (and not ‘peace’ or ‘winning’) the USA has in fact achieved their objects. They are not ‘the big loosers’ as it appears at first glance. quote:
      The war is not meant to be won, it is meant to be continuous. Hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance. … The war is waged by the ruling group against its own subjects and its object is not the victory over either Eurasia or East Asia, but to keep the very structure of society intact.
      – George Orwell, 1949, from “1984”

  3. Allah say in Bible and Al Quran.
    Every citizen has to obey the laws of the land— obey the existace authority. Allah will curse those who rebel the authority— like or dislike you have to obey— you can protest the authority peacefully —

    Because of rebellion has caused million people are suffered and died.
    I urge all Syria citizen obey the existance Authority President Assaad you will be fine and repent to Allah for your sin. Allah is the most forgiving.

    All love ❤️

    • and what about the USA and Israel who armed the rebels? and supplied them? and treated them in the hospitals and sent them back to fight again?

    • Somi, what about those who did not rebel again Assad and were living peacefully and did nothing to anyone and they were experimented on with chemical weaponry ??? What about that??? You say they will be fine? How easily can u just guarantee their safety when you are neither god nor do you have any authority to provide any security or safety measures for anyone, even yourself. Only God almighty does that. Just stick to the topic of the article, how about that???

  4. Riffat— no matter what! All citizen have to obey the existing authority, obey the law of the land.

    Except Riffat if authority impose on you to convert your religion. You have to leave this country like our prophet did before. He moved to other country, africa.

    However the current Islamic teaching cannot provide Muslim to live in peace, happiness and prosperity. Because our teaching has contaminated with wrong teaching and false interpretation of Islam. Ahmadiyyah need more reformation. Otherwise Ahmadiyyah live in FEAR. It is not good at all.

    All love ❤️
    Progressive Muslim invite you all to the true Islam that create peace, happiness and Prosperity.

    • In Syria ‘the international community’, well, in fact Israel and its slave the USA, destabilized the country ‘for the sake of Israel’ (as Hillary is reported to have said). It is the proxy fight between Israel/USA and Iran. It has little to do with Somi’s love-affair with ‘outdated hadith’ or even false interpretation of Islam. It is power play pure and simple. But, yes, Islamic brotherhood should teach Muslims not to fight other Muslims !

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