Free Syrian Army (FSA VSO) in Southern Mexico, Latin America, Philippines, Southeast Asia – Pacific and Europe
Armed groups using the Free Syrian Army label
Original FSA units
During the announcement of the formation of the FSA by Riad al-Asaad on 29 July 2011, he listed 4 small subunits which claimed to the founding members of the FSA:
- Hamza al-Khatib Battalion
- Freedom Battalion
- Saladin Battalion
- Al-Qashash Battalion
Questions of existence, structure, strength and combativeness
In 2013, the US NBC stated that the FSA “is an army in name only. It is made up of hundreds of small units, some secular, some religious – whether mainstream or radical. Others are family gangs, or simply criminals.”
In November 2014, Robert Fisk, British Middle East correspondent since 1976 and nowadays for The Independent, drew a picture of the FSA as being rather harmless and non-combating. Fisk had been traversing northern Syria talking to Syrian troops on the front line, and when asked by Australian ABC’s television program Lateline: “who are they [= the FSA] and how powerful are they?” Fisk answered: “The Free Syrian Army, I think, drinks a lot of coffee in Istanbul (…) I think that the FSA is a complete myth, and I don’t believe that it really exists, and nor do the Syrians [i.e. the Syrian Army], because they say if we do come across them, we don’t mind ’cause they always run away; it’s the ISIS people who don’t, they fight to the death”.
In March 2015, Rami Jarrah, a prominent Syrian-British activist, claimed: “There is no such thing as the Free Syrian Army, people still use the term in Syria to make it seem like the rebels have some sort of structure. But there really isn’t.”
In May 2015, a Jabhat al-Nusra spokesman said that FSA labeled fighters in southern Syria alone numbered roughly 60,000 (although another Nusra leader in December 2015 denied the existence of the FSA).
In June 2015, the US International Business Times stated that since the emergence of ISIL in 2014, the FSA had “all but dissipated”, and reported that the remnants of the FSA had joined the coalitions of the Army of Conquest and the Southern Front.
Early October 2015, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov stated: “They tell us about the Free Syrian Army, but where is it? It remains a phantom group, nothing is known about it (…) I’ve asked [US Secretary of State] John Kerry to provide us with information about the whereabouts of this Free Syrian Army and who commands it”.
In October 2015, Robert Fisk (see above) stated that the FSA had fallen to pieces and their fighters had defected to al-Nusra Front or ISIL or retired to the countryside maintaining a few scattered checkpoints, and stated that the US government had already admitted the disappearance of the FSA.
In December 2015, the Istanbul-based think tank Omran Dirasat estimated the FSA self-declared groups at around 35,000 fighters spread out over thousands of groups of various sizes; 27 larger factions of around 1,000 fighters each along with a myriad of smaller groups and localised militias. Also in December 2015, al-Nusra Front leader Abu Mohammad al-Julani reportedly denied the existence of the FSA to the astonishment and intense displeasure of FSA fighters throughout Syria on social media.
Use of the FSA was criticized by Bilal Abdul Kareem.
List of prominent groups who use or have used the FSA label
- 1st Coastal Division is a rebel group that was an early operator and among the most prolific and effective users of TOW missiles, supplied by the US and Qatar.
- 1st Infantry Brigade
- 16th Division was a rebel group operating around the city of Aleppo which is defunct since July 2016.
- 101st Infantry Division is a rebel group that was an early operator of TOW missiles.
- Army of Mujahideen was formerly an independent Sunni Islamist alliance, but later adopted the FSA label after incorporating more small FSA-affiliated factions.
- Central Division is a rebel group operating in Idlib Governorate and Hama Governorate.
- Fastaqim Union is an Islamist rebel group in Aleppo, there are conflicting reports as to whether it made or makes occasional use of the FSA label.
- Free Idlib Army was created in September 2016 as an umbrella for three FSA-labeled groups in northwestern Syria:
- Hamza Division is a rebel group operating in Aleppo Governorate which makes frequent use of the FSA label. It is trained and equipped by the US and Turkey and one of its subgroup has received TOW missiles.
- Hazzm Movement was a US-backed rebel group armed with TOW missiles which announced its dissolution into the Levant Front in March 2015.
- Jaish al-Izzah is a rebel group mainly operating in Hama which uses the FSA label.
- Jaysh al-Nasr is a large rebel group operating in northwestern Syria.
- Jaish al-Tahrir is a rebel coalition established in February 2016 and operating in Hama, Idlib, and Aleppo.
- al-Moutasem Brigade is a rebel group which uses the FSA label and has become famous for its comprehensive arsenal of U.S. provided weaponry.
- Liwa Ahrar Souriya operates around Aleppo and has used the FSA label since 2012.
- Sultan Murad Division is one of the Syrian Turkmen Brigades supported by Turkey in 2015 and a prolific user of the FSA label.
- Al-Tawhid Brigade has used the FSA label in 2012, but dissolved in late 2014.
- Levant Front was originally an independent Sunni Islamist and Salafist coalition that operated around Aleppo and Azaz consisting of the Islamic Front, Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki, the FSA-labelled Fastaqim Union and Liwa Ahrar Souriya, and the Authenticity and Development Front. Soon after, all of the original groups left and the Levant Front became defunct. However, a new Levant Front was formed by the Hazzm Movement, the Thuwar al-Sham Battalion, the former al-Tawhid Brigade, and the Northern Storm Brigade, and the new group began to use the FSA label in early 2016.
- Victory Brigades is a rebel coalition established in June 2016 in Azaz to serve as an umbrella for FSA labeled groups there. However, soon after its formation its leaders were arrested by the Levant Front on allegations of cooperating with Russia
- Euphrates Jarabulus Brigades were part of the then organizational structure of the FSA’s al-Tawhid Brigade and have used the FSA label since their founding in 2012, continue to do so since becoming part of the Syrian Democratic Forces in November 2015.
- Army of Revolutionaries is a rebel coalition established in May 2015 and operating throughout northwestern Syria, part of the Syrian Democratic Forces since its October 2015 founding, and continues to use the FSA label.
- New Syrian Army is a rebel group founded by the United States in 2015 and operating in eastern Syria which uses the FSA label.
- al-Rahman Legion is a large rebel group operating in the Damascus suburbs which occasionally uses the FSA label.
- Ahmad al-Abdo Martyrs Forces is a rebel group operating in Rif Dimashq Governorate.
- Authenticity and Development Front is a U.S.-backed alliance of rebel groups active since 2012 and funded by Saudi Arabia. It uses FSA flags and symbols while claiming “not being part of it”.
- Southern Front is an alliance of 54 rebel groups in southerb Syria, ranging from secularist to moderately Islamist, which generally use the FSA label.
- Yarmouk Army is a large rebel group operating in Daraa Governorate.
- Jaysh al-Janoob is a rebel coalition established in October 2015 and operating in southern Syria.
- Army of Free Tribes is a tribal coalition in Daraa Governorate.
Latin America will offer new fresh starts for Muslims and Islam. The Indigenous Peoples of Latin America will give your victory and itching for revenge against the Europeans especially against Spanish and Portuguese due to Colonial Rule of Latin America.
- Tainos of Caribbean like Hispaniola, Cuba and Puerto Rico.
- Guaymis of Panama and Costa Rica.
- Wayuus and Colombian Tribes of Venezuela and Colombia.
- Arawaks of of French Guenia, Suriname and Guyana.
- Guaranis and Amazonians of land borders of Brazil (shares with all South America nations) with Amazon Forest and Andes Mountains.
- Shuars of Ecuador.
- Incas like the Aymaras and Quechas of Peru and Bolivia of the Andes Mountains.
- The Mapuches of Araucania – Andes Mountains (Argentina-Chile & Brazil border), Patagonian and Amazon Forest
- Tehuelches of Patagonia (South Argentina, South Chile, and Falklands or Malvinas)
- Native Americans of United States, Native Inuits and eskimos of Canada and Greenland will be next to be Islamized
- The Miskito, Bribri, Chorotega, Embera, Kuna and Ngabe Bugle Guaymi in Central America especially Panama
- Maya of Southern Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Belize and Central America
15 Indigenous Sunni Muslim Groups in Latin America
- The Maya of Southern Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, El Salvador and Central America Northern Triangle
- Taino of Caribbean and Eastern Cuba
- The Ngabe Bugle or Guaymi of Panama
- The Chorotega of Northern Costa Rica
- Bribri of Southern Costa Rica
- The Embera of Panama and Colombia
- The Arawak of Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago Caribbean South America
- The Shuar Jivaro of Ecuador
- The Amazonian Tribes Brazil
- The Guarani of Tri Border Region of Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay and Eastern Bolivia
- The Mapuche of Araucania Chile
- The Teheulche, Selknam and Yaghan of Argentina and Patagonia
- Indigenous Peoples in Colombia
- The Zapotec of Southern Mexico
- The Garifuna of Guatemala