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Southern Front (Syria)

Last modified: 2023-12-09 by ian macdonald
Keywords: syria | army | armed forces | free syrian army | southern front |
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In these two articles (this one published on May 1, 2014 and this one published on November 19, 2014) they mentiona new coalition of opposition forces called Southern Front. In this article they feature a picture of combatants of the Yamrouk Brigade (one of their strongest military components), and the caption of the picture states that this picture was taken on September 29, 2013.
In it, the above mentioned article states: "The objective is to unify fragmented factions to topple the regime of [President Bashar] Assad and work on creating a democratic state that would preserve the rights of all segments and minorities," Ibrahim al-Jabawi, a former police brigadier general turned spokesman for the alliance, told AFP in Amman. "These factions have led significant battles against Assad's forces and achieved victories," notably in the Golan city of Qunaitra  near the disputed frontier with Israel and in the southern city of Deraa, where the uprising began in March 2011, Jabawi said. "In recent days for example, fighters from more than 16 factions liberated a strategic position that belonged to Brigade 61," a Syrian army brigade responsible for guarding the Golan frontier, he said. Abu al-Majd, a spokesman for the Yarmouk Brigade, one of the more powerful members of the alliance, said the front had been active since the failure of Geneva peace talks earlier this year.
The Geneva II Conference on Syria (also called Geneva II Middle East peace conference or simply Geneva II) is a United Nations-backed international peace conference on the future of Syria with the aim  of ending the Syrian Civil War, by bringing together the Syrian government and the Syrian opposition to discuss the clear steps towards a transitional government for Syria with full executive powers. The conference took place on 22 January 2014 in Montreux and on 23–31 January 2014 in Geneva (Switzerland). It is pursued by UN peace
envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi (after he moved his office from Cairo to Geneva) in cooperation with the United States and Russia. The second round of negotiations took place on 10–15 February 2014. A third round of negotiations is planned.
Saudi Arabia, one of the main backers of the uprising against Assad, has strong influence over rebels in the south, where it has worked with Jordan to help unify the various factions, according to Syrian  opposition sources.
Jabawi and others insist their alliance has no place for the Nusra, the Syrian wing of Al-Qaeda, or the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), a rogue jihadist group that has been battling other rebels in the north since the start of the year.
"Division does not lead to positive results. That is why we worked to unify moderate factions under one umbrella," Jabawi told AFP.
"Nusra, which has limited influence in the south, does not have any role in the Southern Front," he said, adding that other Islamist groups in the south "are limited and not developing."
So, if they claim the coalition was active after the second round of peace talks in Geneva, this alliance then formed around no earlier date than February, 2014 (even though other groups were already active back in 2013 such as the Yamrouk Brigade). Now, this article considers the Agence France Presse article on the Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star to be two months old (so if it was published on May 1, but they mention is two months old, then this new alliance of "old fighters" must have been set up between February-march of 2014). This same article states later that the SOHR (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights) mentions on February 23 that "9 military fighting groups in western Der'a countryside , including Jabhat Al-Nusra and Ahrar Al Sham, have announced starting a new battle called 'wa  e'etasemo bi habli Allah jamian wala tafarako' ... [and that the announcement said] 'we will target and hit 8 millitary zones belonging to 61th brigade, all these zones are very strategic in western Daraa  province.'" So this offensive or military campaign (called "The Road to Damascus" by this al-Jazeera article: was actually carried out without any inter-rebel conflicts (as displayed before). In fact, it's been cited that these two factions (Islamic Front acting mainly through al-Nusra Front and Southern Front acting mainly through Yamrouk Brigade) are coordinating ofensives in different parts of the country (Source:
Also in this article published on February 14, 2014 "Moderate Rebel Groups Unite in Southern Syria" mentions the following: "The new FSA entity will be called The Southern Front. 49 Syrian rebel groups in southern Syria will unite under one armed entity called The Southern Front, they announced in a statement seen by Zaman al-Wasl. The statement said the new body, affiliated with the Free Syrian Army (FSA), will be the moderate voice and the strong military arm of Syrian people. Even though in this article they mention a "new coalition" (Southern Front) active as early as February, 2014, the breakaway of factions which form this Southern Front and were part of the FSA (Free Syrian Army) was reported as early as October, 2013, as follows: "More than 60 units of the Free Syrian Army that operate in the south recently broke off from the main military and political command, which is backed by the US and the West. At least one of the defecting units has fought with an al Qaeda branch, the Al Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant. A commander from the Ansar al Sunnah Brigade, a group that fights President Bashir al Assad's government in southern Syria, released a statement on YouTube yesterday claiming that 66 units formerly loyal to the Free Syrian Army and its political branch, the Syrian National Coalition, have defected to form their own command. This units are:
Ansar al Sunnah Brigade
Tawhid al Janub Brigade
Al Shahid Brigade
Al Tahrir Brigade
Special Tasks Brigade
The Elite Brigade
Asifat al Janub Brigade
Al Mayzan Brigade
Shuhada al Hurriyah Brigade
Amud Hawran Brigade
Tabarak al Rahman Brigade
Salah al Din Brigade
Yusuf al Azmah Brigade
Tawhid al Lujah Brigade
Hawran Battalions Alliance Brigade
Hawran Commandos Brigade
A'ishah Brigade
Artillery and Rockets Regiment
The 1st Cavalry Regiment
The 2nd Cavalry Regiment
Al Mu'tazz Brigade
Fajr al Islam Brigade
Al Karamah Brigade
Shuhada al Yarmouk Brigade
Al Haramayn Brigade
Homs al-Walid Brigade
Asad Allah al Hamzah Brigade
Al Habib Brigade
Special Task Brigade
Asifat Hawran Brigade
Usud al Islam Brigade
Jaydur Brigade
Al Fursan Brigade
Saraya al Karamah Brigade
Imam al Nanawi Brigade
Al Ababil Brigade
Al Khansa Brigade
Anwar al Haqq Battalions Alliance
Dir al Lujah Brigade
Sanad Hawran Brigade
Rockets and Artillery Battalion
Luyuth al Furqan Alliance
Ali Bin Abi Talib Brigade
Abu Bakr Brigade
Mu'awiyah Brigade
Rijal al Sham Brigade
Al-Juwlan Commandos Battalion
Hamzah Abu Salah Battalion
The 2nd Division
Ababil Hawran Brigade
Shuhada Dimashq Brigade
Al Uhdah al Umariyah Brigade
Abdallah Bin Mas'ud Brigade
Ahfad al Umawiyyin Brigade
Al-Husun Brigade
Al-Fursan Brigade
Saqr Hawran Brigade
The Alliance of Western Countryside Brigades
Al-Masih Brigade
Al-Sahabah Brigade
Ahmad Khalaf Brigade
Shuhada al Islam Brigade
Bayariq al Islam Brigade
Fajr al Mujahidin Brigade
Fajr al Sham Brigade
Bayariq al Sham Brigade
Esteban Rivera, 20 November 2014

Yarmouk Army

[Jabhat al Nusra rebels (Syria)]
image by Randy Young, 12 May 2015

Notice also that the Yarmouk Brigade (also called Yamrouk Martyrs' Brigade or Yarmouk Division, named after the Yarmouk enclave of the river of the same name that goes across a southern part of the country), which is mentioned in the AFP article as a component of the Southern Front, teamed up in September with Al Nusrah and the Aknaf Bait al Maqdis ("Defenders of Jerusalem"), another jihadist group allied with al Qaeda, to take control of the border crossing between Deraa and Jordan. Like the Southern Front, the Yarmouk Brigade has featured in recent news coverage of the supposedly moderate Syrian rebels, in a New York Times front-page article on April 11, 2014. The issue now is the speculation that leads to "create" new umbrella organizations in order to break away "formally" from other banned factions (such as al-Nusra, which have been declared terrorist organizations) in order to receive outside funds (mainly US funds) but "informally" acting together in the battlefield, which has been a major concern for the supporters of the belligerents in this civil war.
In fact, when going back to earlier incidents, it is said that the kidnapping of 21 Filipino peacekeepers of the UNDOF (United Nations Disengagement Observer Force) on 6 March, 2013 was carried out by the Yamrouk Brigade when in fact, the belligerent oppossition forces in the area during the Quneitra Governorate clashes (2012–2014) were the Free Syrian Army, the Islamic Front and the al-Nusra Front (which in turn is part of the Islamic Front), leaving the question whether Yamrouk is affilliated with al-Nusra or not.
The flag of Yamrouk brigade is seen in this al-Jazeera article from 0:30 onwards.
Image is a screenshot of al Jazeera article taken on November 19, 2014 showing the Yarmouk Brigade flag.
Esteban Rivera, 20 November 2014

The flag has a green field with the logo of the brigade in white. I'm hoping that someone with a better understanding of the Arabic language and culture will be able to shed some light on the logo itself, and improve on my rough graphic.
Of note, it appears that there are two "Yarmouk Brigades." One is the Yarmouk Brigade, now known as the Yarmouk Army, which is a part of the Southern Front and the Hawks of the South coalitions against the Asad government in the Syrian Civil War. This one appears to be the one that has the attached green flag.
The second group is the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade. It is also an anti-Asad rebel unit in southern Syria, but this one is closely aligned with ISIL/ISIS, likely using the ISIL black flag.
Source: )
Randy Young, 12 May 2015

Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade

[Jabhat al Nusra rebels (Syria)]
image located by William Garrison, 04 May 2016

Flag, Syrian Sunni Islamist Liwa Shuhada' al-Yarmouk (Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade–LSY) , c. early 2016. [Interestingly, has 2 slogans below the circular seal]
Source: "Research on the Islamic State, Syria, and Iraq" by Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi March 1–March 29, 2016; "Middle East Forum" online; dated: 3 May 2016
William Garrison, 04 May 2016

Indeed, there are two "Yarmouk Brigades" as Randy Young mentioned in his May 12, 2015 post: "One is the Yarmouk Brigade, now known as the Yarmouk Army, which is a part of the Southern Front and the Hawks of the South coalitions against the Asad government in the Syrian Civil War. The second group is the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade. It is also an anti-Asad rebel unit in southern Syria, but this one is closely aligned with ISIL/ISIS, likely using the ISIL black flag." Hence the flag  is that of Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, an ally of ISIS.
Another flag for the same group is seen here:
The group "was originally set up in 2012, largely based on "local and familial ties, rather than ideology"."
Esteban Rivera, 05 May 2016