Bookstore Glossary Library Links News Publications Timeline Virtual Israel Experience
Anti-Semitism Biography History Holocaust Israel Israel Education Myths & Facts Politics Religion Travel US & Israel Vital Stats Women
donate subscribe Contact About Home

Syria: Key Rebel Groups in Civil War

(Updated June 2013)

Group Name
Main Fronts:
Supreme Military
Command (SMC)
General Salim Idriss
Set up in December 2012 under the Syrian National Coalition in an effort to unite rebels backed by Western and Arab Gulf governments. Has limited control on the groud. General Idriss is a defector from the Syrian army.
Syrian Islamic Front
Abu Abdullah al-Hamawi
Syrian Islamists. Ubcydes Ahrar al-Sham and other Salafist groups. Cooperates with SMC. Hamawi is the chair of the Collective Leader's Council
Syrian Liberation Front
Sheikh Ahmed Issa
Coalition of Islamist groups. Independent of mainstream fighters, but works closely with them. Some leaders sit on the SMC.
Fighting Groups:
Jahbat al-Nusra
Abu Muhammad al-Golani
Salafist jihadists with a global vision of an Islamist state. Mainly foreign leadership, Syrian soldiers. Linked to Al-Qaeda.
Ahrar al-Sham
Abu Abdel Rahman al-Suri
Salafist jihadists with national aims. Cooperate with other groups. Strongest component of Syrian Islamic Front. Political leader is Abu Ayman.
Farouq Battalions
Osama Sayeh al-Jinidi
A mixed bunch, raning from devout to mild Islamists. Started in Homs, now nationwide; includes Farouq al-Shamal in the north. Controls some border crossings.
Liwa al-Tawhid
Abdulkader Saleh
(Haj Marea)
Umbrella force in Aleppo, included int he Syrian Liberation Front. Its leader sits on the SMC.
Saqour al-Sham
Sheikh Ahmed Issa
Most powerful fighting force in Idleb. Islamist. Its leader heads the Syrian Liberation Front.
Ansar al-Islam
Abu Moaz al-Agha
Umbrella for Islamist factions around Damascus, including powerful Liwa al-Islam
Ahfad al-Rasul
Ziad Haj Obeid
Part of Ansar al-Islam in Damascus, where it has carried out assassinations; also has offshoot in Idleb
Omar Hilal
Islamist group with growing presence in Aleppa and Raqqa; works with all other groups
Democratic Union Party
Salih Muslim
Syrian offshoot of Turkey's Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK). Neither with the regime nor with the rebels. Its militias control Kurdish areas in north-east Syria.

Sources: The Economist (May 18, 2013)