Hamza Division (Aleppo)

From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

Hamza Division
فرقة الحمزة
Furqat al-Hamza
Participant in the Syrian Civil War and the Libyan Civil War (2014-present)
Official logo of the Hamza Division
Official logo of the Hamza Division
Active2013 – present
Group(s)
  • Hamza Brigade
  • Northern Thunder Brigade
  • Mare' Resistance Brigade
  • Special Operations Brigade
  • Dhi Qar Brigade
  • Kurdish Falcons Brigade[1]

Former:

Leaders
  • Maj. Gen. Saif Abu Bakr[3]
  • Lt. Abdullah Halawa[4]
  • Abu Jalal[2]
  • Hasan Abdullah Kulli Kurdish Falcons Brigade[1]
  • Yasser Abu al-Sheikh [5]
HeadquartersMare, Aleppo Governorate
Area of operationsAleppo Governorate
Size2,200+ (self-claim, September 2017)[4]
  • 900 (February 2017)[6]
Part ofSyrian opposition Syrian National Army
Allies Turkey
 United States (until 2016)
Al-Mu'tasim Brigade
Liwa Ahfad Saladin
Sultan Murad Division
Levant Front
Opponent(s) Islamic State
Syrian Democratic Forces
 Syria
Libyan National Army
Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement (since 2017)[7]
Ahrar al-Sharqiya
Ahrar al-Sham
Battles and war(s)Syrian Civil War

Libyan Civil War (2014–present) (since 2020)[8]

Originated as
Hamza Battalion

The Hamza Division (Arabic: فرقة الحمزة‎) is a Syrian rebel group in northwestern Syria affiliated with the Syrian National Army, and trained and equipped by the United States and Turkey as part of the Syrian Train and Equip Program. It was formed in 2013, and cooperates with the Turkish Armed Forces in the Turkish occupation of northern Syria.

History[edit]

Yasser Abu al-Sheikh, commander of the Hamza Brigade until his death in April 2016

2013[edit]

The Hamza Division was originally formed as the Hamza Brigade of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in the southern countryside of the Hasakah Governorate in northeast Syria in 2013.[9]

2016[edit]

On 23 April 2016, five FSA groups based in the town of Mare' in the northern Aleppo Governorate countryside, the Hamza Brigade, the Dhi Qar Brigade, the Northern Thunder Brigade, the Mare Resistance Brigade, and the Special Operations Brigade merged into the Hamza Division, citing "interests of unity" and proclaiming its intention to fight the "crime and terror" of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Syrian government. Under the command of Syrian Army defector Lt. Saif Abu Bakr,[3] the factions receive military support from CJTF-OIR, the international coalition against ISIL.[10]

In June 2016, the Northern Thunder Brigade received BGM-71 TOW missiles from CJTF-OIR.[11] Also that month, a Syrian Turkmen group called the "Samarkand Brigade", named after the city in Uzbekistan, joined the Hamza Division.[12]

During Operation Euphrates Shield in late August, the Hamza Division became one of the first FSA groups to enter Jarabulus from Karkamış. Saif Abu Bakr was among those who followed behind Turkish Land Forces tanks and troops and entered Jarabulus in the morning of the first day of the operation, reaching the city center by afternoon.[13] He later gave a speech to residents in Jarabulus.[14]

On 18 October 2016, the Northern Thunder Brigade, part of the Hamza Division, issued an ultimatum to the YPG and the Army of Revolutionaries, warning them to leave Tell Rifaat within 48 hours after which they would attack the town. The threat was not carried out.[15]

2017[edit]

On 24 September 2017, the Hamza Division announced the opening of a military academy in the city of al-Bab. According to Abdullah Halawa, the military commander of the group, 2,200 fighters were to undergo two months of training in the academy, with the goal of forming a "Syrian National Army" in northern Syria.[4]

2018[edit]

In January 2018, the group participated in Operation Olive Branch, the Turkish Armed Forces' invasion of the Afrin Region, against the YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces. In February, the Kurdish Falcons Brigade (aka Red Berets) was formed as part of the Hamza Division. Led by Hasan Abdullah Kulli, it claimed to consist of 400 Kurds and 200 Arabs.[1] The TAF and TFSA captured Afrin on 18 March 2018, after SDF fighters withdrew from the city.

On 25 March, Hamza Division fighters killed a commander of Ahrar al-Sharqiya in Afrin in a dispute over territory and spoils of war, resulting in clashes between the two groups.[16] In response, Ahrar al-Sharqiya arrested around 200 Hamza Division fighters. A ceasefire agreement between the two groups was signed on the same day under Turkish supervision.[17]

In June 2018, the Hamza Division assassinated an Ahrar al-Sham commander in al-Bab.[18]

2019[edit]

According to a unidentified activist in Afrin, the Hamza Division was among the Turkish-backed insurgent groups which volunteered to send fighters to Libya as part of a Turkish-led operation to aid the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord in December 2019.[19]

2020[edit]

In May 2020, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported several deaths of Syrian fighters in Libya, including Hamza members.[8]

On 28 May, protestors in Afrin demanded the withdrawal of the Hamza Division from Afrin after several reported and alleged abuses carried out by the group including holding female prisoners naked. During the protests, members of Ahrar al-Sham and Jaysh al-Islam exiled from East Ghouta clashed with the Hamza Division at their headqaurters, and eventually were able to take over the group's headqaurters and arrested several Hamza Division members; during the confrontation, 3 Hamza Division members were killed in clashes with Jaysh al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham.[20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Suraj Sharma (16 February 2018). "Turkey sends 'Kurdish Falcon' force to Afrin to counter anti-Kurd image". Middle East Eye.
  2. ^ a b "Al-Hamza Division to RFS". Revolutionary Forces of Syria Media Office. 22 September 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Hamza Division: a new military formation to fight ISIL". El-Dorar. 23 April 2016.
  4. ^ a b c Rami Raj (25 September 2017). "Al-Hamzah Group (all partners): The opening of the military college is a step in the formation of the (National Army)". All4Syria.
  5. ^ "FSA mourns the commander of the Hamza Battalion during the battle of Aleppo". Enab Baladi. 8 April 2016.
  6. ^ "470 FSA fighters killed in Euphrates Shield Operation". Kom News. 17 February 2017. Archived from the original on 25 September 2017. Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  7. ^ Khaled Khatib (26 May 2017). "Aleppo: opposition to end "the Knights of the Revolution"". Al-Modon.
  8. ^ a b SOHR: 13,000 Pro-Turkey Mercenaries Arrive in Libya See.news, May 19, 2020
  9. ^ Ahmad Zakaraya (30 January 2017). "Al-Hamza Division to RFS: Our blood is not more expensive than our civilians and our goal is to liberate Syria from the regime's crimes and its assistant Daesh, the head of terrorism". RFS Media Office.
  10. ^ "Hamza Division: merger of five FSA factions in northern Aleppo". Enab Baladi. 25 April 2016.
  11. ^ "BMG-71 TOW ATGM Syrian Opposition groups in the Syrian Civil War". Badly Xeroxed. 30 June 2016. Archived from the original on 28 January 2018. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  12. ^ ""Samarkand," the name of a new species, "Free Army" in Syria". Enab Baladi. 22 June 2016.
  13. ^ "Syria à la Carte: Turkish Invasion Highlights Rapidly Shifting Alliances". Spiegel. 26 August 2016.
  14. ^ "Hamza Division military commander to the civilians of Jarabulus city". Hamza Division/Youtube. 26 August 2016.
  15. ^ "FSA poised for showdown with Kurdish forces in Aleppo". The New Arab. 19 October 2016.
  16. ^ https://investigativejournal.org/empathy-for-the-enemy-a-former-free-syrian-army-soldier-returns-to-afrin/
  17. ^ "A six-item agreement to end the fighting between Ahrar al-Sharqiya and Hamzah in Afrin". El-Dorar al-Shamia. 25 March 2018.
  18. ^ Aboufadel, Leith (22 June 2018). "Top military commander of Ahrar Al-Sham assassinated in east Aleppo".
  19. ^ Ragip Soylu; Harun al-Aswad (27 December 2019). "Turkey to send Syrian rebel fighters to battle Haftar in Libya". Middle East Eye. Retrieved 29 December 2019.
  20. ^ https://www.syriahr.com/en/?p=167177