Al-Sanadid Forces

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Al-Sanadid Forces
قوات الصناديد
LeadersBandar al-Humaydi[1]
(Sanadid military leader)
Humaydi Daham al-Hadi[2]
(Tribe leader)
Dates of operation2013–present
HeadquartersTell Hamis, Syria[3]
Active regionsRojava
Ideologypro-Shammar tribal autonomy[4]
anti-House of Saud[5]
pro-breakup of Saudi Arabia[5]
Size4,500+ (self-claim)[6]
Part of Syrian Democratic Forces
AlliesPeople's Protection Units Flag.svg People's Protection Units
YPJ Flag.svg Women's Protection Units
Syriac Military Council
Deir Ezzor Military Council
 Saudi Arabia (since 2018)[7]
 United Arab Emirates[8]
Opponents Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
 Turkey (2018)[9]
Battles and warsSyrian Civil War Iraqi insurgency
Preceded by
Army of Dignity[6]

The Forces of the Brave (Arabic: جيش الصناديد / قوات الصناديد‎, romanizedQuwwāt aṣ-Ṣanādīd / Jayš aṣ-Ṣanādīd), generally called the al-Sanadid Forces,[6] are a militia formed by the Arab Shammar tribe to fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.[17] Even though the tribe's Syrian strongholds are mostly in the Jazira Canton of Rojava, such as at al-Yaarubiyah and Tell Hamis, the militia operates throughout most of Rojava. The red colour in their flag represents blood while the yellow represents the light, calling themselves “marchers on the red death”.[18] The al-Sanadid Forces are affiliated with the co-governor/co-president of Jazira Canton and tribal leader Humaydi Daham al-Hadi, and are led by Humaydi's son Bandar al-Humaydi.[19][1][20][21][22][23]


The al-Sanadid Forces primarily want to ensure the Shammar tribe's autonomy and security in the Al-Hasakah Governorate; furthermore, they have pledged to fight Wahhabism. Humaydi Daham al-Hadi has also expressed his ambition to facilitate the breakup of Saudi Arabia, likely to retake the former Emirate of Jabal Shammar from the House of Saud.[4][5]

The Shammar tribe generally maintains a long cooperative relationship with the Syrian Kurds since the 18th century,[4] despite a number of tribal disputes. In course of the 2004 al-Qamishli riots, the Shammar under Humaydi Daham al-Hadi were the only Arab tribe in al-Hasakah Governorate that refused to fight the Kurdish protestors for the government.[24] As result, when the al-Sanadid Forces were formed, they were set up as explicitly pro-Kurdish. Humaydi Daham al-Hadi and his son both repeatedly expressed loyalty to and support for the Kurdish forces.[4][5][24]

The al-Sanadid Forces' stance in regard to the Ba'athist government of Bashar al-Assad is ambiguous. Whereas some sources regard Humaydi Daham al-Hadi as "anti-government" figure,[24] others accuse the al-Sanadid Forces of siding with the government,[17] while strictly opposing the Syrian opposition.[25][26] The militia itself has claimed that it neither supports nor opposes Assad's rule, with Humaydi Daham al-Hadi having said that "whoever rules Damascus rules Syria".[6][4][5]


The Sanadid Forces in al-Shaddadi after the offensive in February 2016.

The Shammar is a historically powerful and prestigious tribal group, though their number and influence in Syria has dwindled since the independence of Syria. After the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War and the almost complete retreat of the Syrian Army from the al-Hasakah Governorate in mid 2012, Humaydi Daham al-Hadi soon aligned himself with the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD)[25] and in 2013 set up the Army of Dignity (Jaysh al-Karama), which later transformed into the al-Sanadid Forces. The alliance with the Kurds and the formation of the Army of Dignity were Humaydi's response to the growing power of Jihadi groups like ISIL in the region.[6] By aiding the PYD's YPG and YPJ in capturing much of the al-Hasakah Governorate, and especially securing the local oil fields,[24] the militia managed to grow in size and power, which allowed Humaydi Daham al-Hadi to maintain his authority over the Syrian Shammar.[25] Shammar members that were opposed to him and the PYD while supporting the Syrian opposition faced "expulsion and imprisonment" by the Army of Dignity / al-Sanadid Forces.[25][26]

As the influence of the al-Sanadid Forces and the Shammar grew, their cooperation with the PYD increased. Humaydi Daham al-Hadi was elected co-governor (along with Hediye Yusuf) of Jazira Canton in early 2015, while the al-Sanadid Forces joined the Syrian Democratic Forces and helped to expel ISIL from the rest of the al-Hasakah Governorate over the course of 2015/16.[25][19] The growing power of the Shammar was however resented by other Arab tribes in northeastern Syria such as the Tayy, which led them to oppose any attempts by the al-Sandid Forces to integrate non-Shammar tribal forces into their ranks. Some tribes have instead opted to support the Assad government[25] or even ISIL.[27]

Nevertheless, experts still consider the al-Sanadid Forces as important mediators between Arabs and Kurds, and major diplomatic asset for the PYD and SDF.[6][25] As result, the Shammar militia took part in several offensives in the non-Kurdish/non-Shammar Raqqa Governorate, such as the Tishrin Dam offensive,[13] the Northern Raqqa offensive,[14] and the campaign and battle to capture Raqqa city, ISIL's de facto capital.[6][28][16] The SDF has also advocated that an offensive against the ISIL-held areas in Deir ez-Zor Governorate should be spearheaded by the Deir ez-Zor Military Council and the al-Sanadid Forces instead of other United States-allied Arab militias such as the Lions of the East Army, Revolutionary Commando Army or Deir ez-Zor Liberation Brigade. Regional WINEP expert Fabrice Balanche claimed that this support for the Shammar militia stemmed primarily from the PYD's unwillingness to allow potential political rivals to grow in power in eastern Syria,[29] although both the Lions of East as well as Deir ez-Zor Liberation Brigade have themselves expressed opposition or even open hostility toward the SDF.[30][31]

Despite their usual cordial relationship, there have also been tensions between the YPG and the al-Sanadid Forces over time, such as when violent local disputes erupted between factions of two groups in June 2017.[32]

Although the group has previously stated their anti-Saudi stance and have used rhetoric against the country, in early 2018 after US President Donald Trump expressed his desire to withdraw American military forces from Syria, Saudi officials held talks with the group in hopes of establishing an Arab force to replace American forces and counter Iranian influence.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Gutman, Roy (20 October 2015). "Syrian Arab militias dispute they received U.S. airdrop of ammunition". McClatchyDC. Archived from the original on 22 October 2015. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  2. ^ "Declaration of establishment by Syrian Democratic Forces". Kurdish Question. 15 October 2015. Archived from the original on 2016-02-24. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
  3. ^ Xemgin Othman (2 May 2015). "Sanadid s' Fighters Disappointment a Suicidal Operation in the Countryside of Tel Hamis". Adar Press. Archived from the original on 2015-12-22. Retrieved 16 October 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Syria: Sunni force takes up arms against IS group". France24. 14 March 2016. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d e f "New allies in northern Syria don't seem to share U.S. goals". McClathyDC. 27 October 2015. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Hassan Hassan (2017), p. 3.
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ "YPG kills 103 IS fighters and enters Tal Hamis after taking over 103 villages". SOHR. 27 February 2015. Archived from the original on 2 March 2015. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
  11. ^ "YPG, backed by al- Khabour Guards Forces, al- Sanadid army and the Syriac Military Council, expels IS out of more than 230 towns, villages and farmlands". SOHR. 28 May 2015. Retrieved 22 June 2016.[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ a b "War on ISIS unites Syrian Kurds, Arabs and Christians". ARA News. 21 November 2015. Archived from the original on 10 July 2017. Retrieved 5 December 2015.
  13. ^ a b "U.S.-backed alliance captures key dam from Islamic State: alliance spokesman". Reuters. 26 December 2015.
  14. ^ a b "What has happened during the Operation Liberate North Raqqa?". ANF News. 26 May 2016.
  15. ^ "550 km2 liberated, Wrath of Euphrates reveals outcomes". Hawar News Agency. 2016-11-14. Archived from the original on 2017-05-12. Retrieved 2017-03-02.
  16. ^ a b "Great War for the liberation of Raqqa begins". Hawar News Agency. 6 June 2017. Archived from the original on 2017-06-09. Retrieved 2017-06-28.
  17. ^ a b Hamou, Ammar (2 November 2015). "Ahead of battle against Islamic State in Syria's northeast, one faction hesitates to join SDF". Syria Direct. Archived from the original on 5 November 2015. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  18. ^ "Al-Sanadid forces: We go wherever the YPG goes". Hawar News Agency. 15 July 2015. Archived from the original on 2017-08-03. Retrieved 16 October 2015.
  19. ^ a b "YPG, backed by al-Khabour Guards Forces, al-Sanadid army and the Syriac Military Council, expels IS out of more than 230 towns, villages and farmlands". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. 28 May 2015. Archived from the original on 29 May 2015. Retrieved 28 February 2017.
  20. ^ "SDF plays central role in Syrian civil war" (PDF). IHS Jane's 360. IHS Inc. 20 January 2016. pp. 3–4. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 April 2016. Retrieved 28 February 2017.
  21. ^ Gupta, Rahila (9 April 2016). "Rojava's commitment to Jineolojî: the science of women". openDemocracy. Retrieved 28 February 2017.
  22. ^ "Sanadid fighters promote their participation in Wrath of Euphrates". Hawar News Agency. 9 January 2017. Archived from the original on 1 March 2017. Retrieved 28 February 2017.
  23. ^ Hubbard, Ben (2 November 2015). "New U.S.-backed alliance to counter ISIS in Syria falters". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  24. ^ a b c d "Syrian Kurds appoint Arab governor in Hasakah, bid for international support". Middle East Eye. 12 February 2015. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  25. ^ a b c d e f g Kheder Khaddour; Kevin Mazur (28 February 2017). "Eastern Expectations: The Changing Dynamics in Syria's Tribal Regions". Carnegie Middle East Center. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
  26. ^ a b "With 'Persian' Sword: 'Al-Sanadid' is the First Tribal Militia to Slaughter Syrians". Orient News (in Arabic). 3 March 2015. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
  27. ^ "Arab tribal fighters declare war on Kurdish YPG forces, north Syria". ARA News. 20 February 2015. Archived from the original on 28 August 2017. Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  28. ^ "550 km2 liberated, Wrath of Euphrates reveals outcomes | ANHA". 2017-10-11. Archived from the original on 2017-10-11. Retrieved 2018-08-27.
  29. ^ Fabrice Balanche (17 August 2017). "The Race for Deir al-Zour Province". The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  30. ^ "The leader of Jaysh Assud Al-Sharqiyah 'Talass Al-Salama' to DeirEzzor 24: The SDF and Assad's forces are two sides of the same coin". DeirEzzor 24. 27 August 2017. Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  31. ^ "The factions of Deir al-Zour are about to integrate". Al-Dorar al-Shamia. 21 August 2017. Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  32. ^ "Fighting breaks out amongst SDF militias". Al-Dorar Al-Shamia. 29 June 2017. Retrieved 28 August 2017.


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