Revolutionary Commando Army

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Revolutionary Commando Army
جيش مغاوير الثورة
Jaysh Maghawir al-Thawra
  • Lieutenant colonel Muthanna Tala[1]
  • Captain Abdullah al-Zoubi[2]
    (since December 2016)
  • Bara Fares[3]
    (media spokesperson)
  • Muhammad Jarrah[4]
  • Khazal al-Sarhan[5]
    (until December 2016)
  • Mozahem al-Saloum[6]
    (spokesperson, former)
Group(s)Ghosts of the Desert[7]
Active regionsHoms Governorate, Rif Dimashq Governorate, and Deir ez-Zor Governorate, Syria
Anbar Governorate, Iraq
Part ofSyrian opposition Free Syrian Army[12]
Allies Southern Front[13]

 United States

United Kingdom United Kingdom[15]

Norway Norway[16]

Jordan Jordan[13]
Opponents Islamic State[17]
Syria Syrian Armed Forces
Battles and warsSyrian Civil War
Preceded by
Allahu Akbar Brigade (Authenticity and Development Front)

The Revolutionary Commando Army (Arabic: جيش مغاوير الثورة‎; Jaysh Maghawir al-Thawra, abbreviated MaT),[18] previously called the New Syrian Army (Arabic: جيش سوريا الجديد‎, Jaysh Suriyah al-Jadid,[17] abbreviated NSA or NSyA),[19] is a Syrian rebel group consisting of Syrian Arab Army defectors and other rebels established during the Syrian Civil War. Founded on 20 May 2015, the group sought to expel the Islamic State from eastern Syria. They claimed to have received training and advanced weaponry from the Authenticity and Development Front and the CIA in Jordan.[20] In December 2016, the New Syrian Army dissolved and the remnants of the group formed the Revolutionary Commando Army.[21]

Operational history[edit]

New Syrian Army[edit]

The New Syrian Army was established by remnants of the Allahu Akbar Brigade, part of the Authenticity and Development Front and formerly based in Abu Kamal.[22][23] The NSA was formed on 20 May 2015, and its fighters were trained in Jordan.[1]

On 16 November 2015, the New Syrian Army was deployed at al-Tanf in southeastern Syria, near Iraq and Jordan, and carried out a raid, with or without US aerial support. No further information was given.[24]

On 5 March 2016, the NSA and another FSA group, the Forces of Martyr Ahmad al-Abdo, captured the al-Tanf border crossing from ISIL in a cross-border raid from Jordan.[25][irrelevant citation]

In May 2016, an Islamic State suicide attack struck an NSA base near al-Tanf, which resulted in a large number of casualties. The attack brought to the surface underlying tensions and a lack of morale within the group, whose members alleged that the US failed to provide them with the equipment promised.[12]

In June 2016, the NSA's base near al-Tanf was hit by multiple cluster bombs from Russian airstrikes, killing 2 and injuring 18.[26] Russia denied responsibility for the airstrike, although photos released by the NSA identified the bombs as Russian RBK-500 cluster bombs which were delivered from Khmeimim Air Base in Latakia.[27]

Later in June, the group launched an offensive against ISIL in Abu Kamal. The offensive was repelled by ISIL.[28]

On 3 August 2016, the New Syrian Army was expelled from the Authenticity and Development Front.[29]

Ghosts of the Desert[edit]

The Ghosts of the Desert was an NSA-affiliated anti-ISIL insurgent group that covertly operated in ISIL-held towns in southeastern Syria and southwestern Iraq such as Abu Kamal, Mayadin, and al-Qaim. Since March 2016, they initially sprayed graffiti and raised Syrian and Iraqi flags in the towns, but began to conduct covert military activities the next month, such as sabotage, assassinations of ISIL fighters, and marking positions for airstrikes. The group supplied military intelligence to the US Air Force that allowed them to kill Abu Waheeb in May 2016 in the Iraqi town of Rutbah after the group marked his location.[7]

Revolutionary Commando Army[edit]

Members of the Revolutionary Commando Army and a US Army soldier repair a water well in Al-Tanf.

In December 2016, the New Syrian Army dissolved after internal disputes. Some of its remnants regrouped under the name of the Revolutionary Commando Army, led by Captain Abdullah al-Zoubi.[2]

On 30 April 2017, the Revolutionary Commando Army launched an offensive into eastern Syria, reaching the Deir ez-Zor Governorate and capturing the village of Humaymah, south of the T2 pumping station.[30][31] Two days later, the rebels attacked and captured several sites in the region, including: Tarwazeh al-Wa`er, Sereit al-Wa`er, Mount Ghrab, Swab desert, al-Kamm Swab, the T3 Pumping Station, Me`izeileh and Tarwazeh al-Attshaneh.[32] On 6 May, FSA groups including the RCA captured several sites in the Badiya region of Homs Governorate to the south of Palmyra including Dahlouz and al-Halbeh areas.[33] The RCA was supplied with IAG Guardian armoured personnel carriers by the US during the operation.[34]

In late November 2017, at least 180 fighters in the Revolutionary Commando Army were relieved of duty. According to the United States Central Command, the fighters "completed their military service", while according to the group's spokesman, they were removed due to their "weak performance". As result, between 40 and 60 fighters were left in the group.[4] The unit increased in numbers after that point, with c. 300 fighters serving with the Revolutionary Commando Army by October 2018.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Muhammad Ersan (1 June 2017). "Syrian rebel commander: 150 US troops at al-Tanf base". Al-Monitor. Archived from the original on 12 June 2017.
  2. ^ a b ""The new Syrian Army" new look .. "commando revolution," the formation of US support to fight state regulation in Homs". Shaam Network. 22 December 2016.
  3. ^ Muhannad Hourani (25 May 2017). ""Commando revolution" is preparing to cover the battle of Abu Kamal coalition". Arabi 21.
  4. ^ a b c Waleed Khaled a-Noufal and Justin Clark (21 November 2017). "US-backed forces in southeastern Syria downsize, take on smaller role". Syria Direct.
  5. ^ "New Syrian Army will 'liberate eastern Syria' from IS". The New Arab. 12 March 2016.
  6. ^ "What is the truth Revolution Army commando attack on the regime in the Syrian desert?". Qasioun News Agency. 26 May 2017.
  7. ^ a b "THE GHOSTS OF THE DESERT: FIGHTING ISIS FROM WITHIN". Conflict News. 12 August 2016. Archived from the original on 15 August 2016.
  8. ^ Times, Los Angeles (29 June 2016). "U.S.-backed rebels launched their first attack against Islamic State. They lost".
  9. ^ Weiss, Michael (1 July 2016). "They Rescued This Town from ISIS, Then Lost It". The Daily Beast.
  10. ^ Cody Roche Syrian Opposition Factions in the Syrian Civil War, Bellingcat, 13 August 2016
  11. ^ a b Kube, Courtney (22 October 2018). "Inside the remote U.S. base in Syria central to combating ISIS and countering Iran". NBC News.
  12. ^ a b "The last remaining Pentagon-trained rebel group in Syria is now in jeopardy". Washington Post. 27 May 2016. Retrieved 2016-08-08.
  13. ^ a b "The New Syrian Army: America's "Tip of the Spear" Against ISIS in the Syrian Desert". Rao Komar. 31 May 2016. Archived from the original on 27 December 2016. Retrieved 27 December 2016.
  14. ^ "Russian air strikes kill Syrian refugees on Jordan border: Rebels". Middle East Eye. 13 July 2016.
  15. ^ British special forces 'operating inside Syria alongside rebels', Telegraph 6 June 2016
  16. ^ "Holder tett om støtte". Klassekampen (in Norwegian). 16 June 2018. Retrieved 16 June 2018.
  17. ^ a b "Syria's New Army". BBC. 10 November 2015. Archived from the original on 11 March 2016. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
  18. ^ Coalition: MaT still a vetted Syrian force, remains at At Tanf, The Defense Post
  19. ^ "The New Syrian Army (@NSyA_Official)". Twitter. Retrieved 2016-08-08.
  20. ^ "CIA Funded and SOF Trained: The New Syrian Army Hits the Ground". SOF Rep. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
  21. ^ ""Revolution Commando" New Military Formation to fight IS group of Palmyra". El-Dorar al-Shamia. 27 December 2016.
  22. ^ "Department of Defense Press Briefing by Colonel Garver via teleconfere". United States Department of Defense. 29 June 2016.
  23. ^ "Syrian Opposition Factions in the Syrian Civil War - bellingcat". Bellingcat. 13 August 2016.
  24. ^ "New U.S.-backed offensive in northern Syria advances on ISIS outposts". McClatchy DC. 17 November 2015. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  25. ^ "Syria Rebels take border crossing from IS". Associated Press. 5 March 2016.
  26. ^ Loveluck, Louisa; Ensor, Josie (17 June 2016). "Russian warplanes bomb elite British-backed Syrian rebels". The Telegraph.
  27. ^ "The al-Tanf Bombing: How Russia Assisted ISIS by Attacking an American Backed FSA Group with Cluster Bombs". Bellingcat. 21 June 2016. Archived from the original on 8 October 2016. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  28. ^ "US Backed New Syrian Army Suffers Crippling Defeat". Archived from the original on 2016-08-13. Retrieved 2016-08-08.
  29. ^ "Syria rebel coalition cuts ties with US-backed group". NOW. 4 August 2016. Archived from the original on 5 August 2016. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  30. ^ "جيش مغاوير الثورة لـ "قاسيون": سيطرنا على حميمة ونستعد لدخول دير الزور". Qasioun News Agency (in Arabic). 30 April 2017.
  31. ^ "المعارضة مدعومة من التحالف الدولي تسيطر على بلدة حميمة بريف دير الزور الجنوبي". Ittihad Press (in Arabic). 30 April 2017. Archived from the original on 8 March 2019. Retrieved 19 March 2021.
  32. ^ Yakovlev, Ivan (2 May 2017). "US-backed militants advance deep inside ISIS-controlled Syrian desert". Al-Masdar News.
  33. ^ Leith, Fadel (6 May 2017). "Video footage of FSA troops advancing 70km south of Palmyra". Al-Masdar News.
  34. ^ "Southern factions receive US military vehicles". Al Etihad Press. 10 May 2017.