Axis of Logic
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Who actually fights in Syria: the black list of the Empire’s shame
By Staff report translated by Siv O'Neall
Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten
Monday, Dec 26, 2016

People from East Aleppo are watching the evacuation of mercenary soldiers from their city on December 15 2016

The West is complaining with great pathos about what is going on in Aleppo. The EU and the Federal German Government do not say, however, that in Aleppo as well as in all of Syria, it is mainly mercenary troops that are fighting. They are financed by the West and its allies. Without them, there would be no war in Syria.

To the German public [as well as to everybody else in the world], it is often not clear who is fighting against whom in Syria. Only one side seems to be clear: an alliance between Russia, Syria, Iran and Islamic Hezbollah. But who is this alliance then fighting against? The designation of the opponents of the elected President Bashar al-Assad ranges from "rebels" to "insurgents" to "opposition". Now there is even an opposition section in the Syrian parliament and it also has a ministry (for national reconciliation). But the fighting "rebels" are almost exclusively supported by foreign governments and secret agencies.

In the following list, we refer almost exclusively to Western sources – which makes it clear that the use of mercenaries 
is well known to the international media.

The list is a list of shame: Western intelligence agencies and governments are financing,
with citizens’ tax money, a war in Syria that has gone completely out of control. Energy-political interests are at the origin of this horrible war. This applies to the West as well as to Russia and Iran.

The Russian army has come to Assad's aid. It has done so in accordance with international law – even if war is always horrible and Russia could not avoid harming civilians. The mercenaries listed here and their supporters are all acting against international law.

Active in Daraa and Quneitra, reports Al Jazeera.

The group is supported, financed and directed by the Military Operations Center (MOC) in Amman, which is under the control of the USA, reports the Heinrich-Böll-Foundation.

The BBC reports that the Southern Front is a merger of several groups with a fighter force of 38,000, and it is supported by the CIA.

It is described by Western representatives as the best organized "rebel group", according to Reuters.

The Southern Front is headed by the former Syrian general Bashar al-Zoubi. Al-Zoubi is a wealthy businessman who has earned his fortune mainly from tourism business. According to the magazine NOW, he is also a member of the Al-Zoubi clan,

Al-Rahman Legion and Dhaish al-Islam:

Active in East Ghouta, the surrounding countryside of Damascus and in eastern Qalamoun, reports Asharq al-Awsat.

The group is operating continuously with the Salafist mercenary force Dhaish al-Islam. The Al-Rahman Legion and Dhaish al-Islam were raised and financed by Saudi Arabia. Riad uses the group as an umbrella organization to finance further mercenary groups in Syria. "Coordination meetings" were held in the past between the former Saudi secret service leader Bandar, the US Ambassador in Syria, Robert Ford, and the Foreign Minister of Qatar, Khaled al-Attiyeh. Secret meetings were held between representatives from Saudi Arabia. The US and Qatar organizations took place on Turkish territory, reports The Guardian.

The number of fighters amounts to between 40,000 and 70,000 men, reports Stanford University. The spokesman for Dhash al-Islam, Mohammed Allousch, participated as a mercenary representative in the Geneva peace talks, which were
one-sidedly broken off by Allousch, reports Al Jazeera.

The founder of Dhash al-Islam, Zahran Allousch, was killed in a Russian air strike, reports the Guardian. The current military leader of the group is Essam al-Buwaydhani. There is no reliable information about al-Buwaydhani.

The Levant Front (Jabat al-Shamiyah):

Active in the north of Syria / Aleppo province.

The group is supported both by western states and by Saudi Arabia, reports Reuters. In the course of the Syrian war, it has received US anti-tank weapons.

According to, the number of fighters in the group is around 7,000.

The commander-in-chief of the Levant Front is Abdelaziz Salamah. According to information from the Carnegie Middle East Center, Salamah is a "mercenary" from the Syrian city of Anadan, who had previously been the leader of other mercenary groups.

Nura al-Din al-Zinki:

A) The mercenary squad Nura al-Din al-Zinki is active in the Aleppo province, especially in the north-western suburbs of the city of Aleppo, reports the Militant Leadership Monitor of the Jamestown Foundation.

The group is financially supported as well as equipped with weapons by the USA. The US Military Operations Center (MOC) plays a key role, with the CIA controlling the use of money and materials. The group is said to have received US anti-tank weapons from the CIA and Saudi Arabi
a, as reported by The Guardian and NOW.

According to, the group has about 3,000 fighters.

The group's commander-in-chief is Sheikh Tawfik Shahabuddin, according to the Carnegie Middle East Center.

Mountain Hawks Brigade:

A) The Mountain Hawks Brigade is active in Idlib, in the north-west of Syria.
B) The group is financially supported by the CIA, who also supplied them with arms.
Their activities are coordinated by the Military Operations Center in Turkey, led by Western and Arab intelligence agents – according to Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty.

The group has a fighter force of 1,000 people, says the magazine

The commander-in-chief of the mercenary unit is Hassan Haj Ali, a former commander in the Syrian army. The fighters in this group are trained in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, according to Radio Free Liberty / Radio Europe.

The Mountain Hawks Brigade has so far fought alongside with the Al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham against the Syrian Army.

The 13th Division:

The 13th Division is particularly active in the province of Idlib, reports The Business Insider.

It is financed by Qatar and Saudi Arabia, reports Al Jazeera.

According to the New York Times, the CIA is said to have equipped the group with US anti-tank weapons. It has a combat force of 1,800 people, according to

The commander of the group is Lieutenant-Colonel Ahmed al-Saud, reports the BBC. Al-Saud deserted from the Syrian army in 2012, where he had previously served for 20 years, according to Al Jazeera.

Dhish al-Nasr:

The Dhish al-Nasr group is active in Hama and Idlib.

According to the Middle East Eye, Dhish al-Nasr is armed and supported by the CIA.
The commander of the group is Major Mohammed al-Mansour, reports RFS North. Al-Mansour is a deserter from the Syrian army.
Dhish al-Nasr has 3,000 fighters. The group is supported by the West and they shot down a Syrian fighter jet with an air defense weapon in March 2016, reports the L.A. Times.

Northern Division:

The Northern Division is active in the provinces of Idlib, Hama and Aleppo.

The Northern Division is one of the mercenary troops armed and supported by the CIA. The CIA is said to have supplied the group with, among other things, anti-tank weapons, reports The Daily Mail.

The Jamestown Foundation reports that Lieutenant-Colonel Fares al-Bayousch, who had previously served in the Syrian army and was an air force engineer, was the commander-in-chief of the mercenary unit.

The group has a combat force of 3,250 people, reports the magazine

First Coastal Division:

The First Coastal Division is active in the provinces of Idlib and Latakia.

The group is also one of the CIA-backed mercenary troops, reports the Wall Street Journal. It had previously received US anti-tank weapons, according to Stratfor. [The commander of] The First Coastal Division is Major general Muhammad Haj Ali.
Haj Ali is the highest-ranking deserter of the Syrian army who joined the mercenary troops. He has been promoted to the Nasser Academy in Egypt, reports Al Araby.

The First Coastal Division has an estimated 2,800 fighters, according to

The Sham Legion / Faylaq al-Sham:

The Sham Legion is active in Homs, Hama, Idlib and Aleppo.

The Sham Legion is supported by the US, reports the Russian military portal South Front.

However, they also participated in Operation Euphrates Shield, which led to the US-backed Kurdish militia attacking this group in northern Syria. The mercenary group is currently fighting against the Kurdish militia in northern Syria, reports the New York Times. Before that, this group had fought almost exclusively against the Syrian army.

The group has 4,000 fighters, reports

Commander of the group is Mondher Saras, reports Carnegie. There is no publicly available information concerning Mondher Saras.

Ahrar al-Sham:

The mercenary troops Ahrar al-Sham are active mainly in the province of Idlib.

This is one of the mercenary groups that are supported by the CIA, reports The International Reporter. According to information from the Russian government site Sputnik News, Saudi Arabia is said to be supporting the group financially. Al-Masdar News describes the group as one supported by the "West".

Its current commander is Abu Yahya al-Hamawi, an engineer from Hama, who had studied at Tishreen University, Joshua Landis reports on his website. However, Abu Ammar al-Ommar will take over the leadership of Ahrar al-Sham, reports AP. Al-Omar is considered a hardliner, who refuses to honor a cease-fire with the Syrian army, reports Alalam.

Ahrar al-Sham has a fighter force of 15,000 people, according to

Al-Nusra Front (Fatah al-Sham):

The Al-Nusra Front is mainly active in the provinces of Idlib and Deir-Ezzor.

According to research by British journalist Peter Oborne, the US and UK support the Al-Nusra front, a Syrian al-Qaeda offshoot, as well as numerous other mercenary troops in Syria. This can be seen in the documentary "The Report" by the BBC Radio. The US and the Al-Nusra Front are on the same side in the fight against President Bashar al-Assad.

The current commander of the Al-Nusra front is Abu Mohammed al-Julani, according to the BBC. Al-Julani is a native Syrian. He had previously joined Al-Qaeda in Iraq and was imprisoned at Camp Bucca, reports Orient News.

The Al-Nusra front has 12,000 fighters according to

Special case MI6 in the Syrian War:

After the fall of Gaddafi, the MI6 and the CIA set up a "rat line" from Libya to Syria. Weapons and fighters were moved to Syria to overthrow Assad.

The British and the French trained the Free Syrian Army rebels and they were stationed on a Turkish base. The rebel forces are said to have been stationed in northern Lebanon and parts of Libya, according to the UK Elite & Special Forces military site.

The Asia Times reports that the MI6 and the French DGSE trained rebels in the Turkish region of Hatay and Tripoli in Libya.

Furthermore, the MI6 trained and armed rebels in Jordan against Syria, in cooperation with the CIA and French trainers – according to The Guardian.

Martyrs of Islam Brigade / Liwa 'Shuhada al-Islam:

This group is active in the suburbs of Damascus / Daraya. It is the biggest mercenary force in Daraya, reports Orient News.

Between 2012 and 2016 this group had received US anti-tank weapons from the CIA, reports the website Democratic Revolution, Syrian Style. The use of US anti-tank weapons is also evident in the videos taken by these troops.

The military leader of the mercenary squad is Captain Saeed Enker. He told Orient News that his troops would be supporting the groups in Idlib in the fight against Assad. reported that this group has over 1,000 fighters.

Islamic Muthanna Movement / Harakat al-Muthanna al-Islamiya:

This group is active in the province of Daraa.

The ally of the Islamic Muthanna Movement is the terrorist militia ISIS (Liwa Shuhada 'al-Yarmouk). The financing of the Group is unclear. According to the Arab journalist Nabegh Soror, the group was initially given financial support by a person from the Gulf States who presented himself as a member of a secret service staff. Later, however, it turned out that he was a private person, reports Zaman al Wasl

The organization also serves as an intermediary between various Islamist troops, according to Zaman al Wasl.

The commander-in-chief and "emir" of the group is Abu Ayyup, about whom little is known, Al Jazeera reports.

The group has 2,000 fighters, reports

Sultan Murat Brigade:

The Sultan Murat Brigade operates in the province of Aleppo.

The group is supported by Turkey and is involved in the operation Euphrates Shield.

Their commander is Colonel Ahmet Othman Fehim Isa, reports Voice of America.

The group has 1,000 fighters, who are mainly Turkmen, according to The group belongs to the military umbrella organization Turkmen Army Syria (STO).

Turkmen Army Syria (STO):

The STO was founded in August 2012. This group is active in Latakia, Aleppo, Idlib, Homs and Hama, reports.

STO is supported by Turkey. The political arm of the group is the Syrian-Turkmen Parliament, with its headquarters in Istanbul and other agencies in Gaziantep and Yayladag.

The founder and commander of the mercenary troops is Colonel Abu Bakir Muhammad Abbas, who is a deserter from the Syrian army, reports Haberler.

The Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak reports that the STO has over 5,000 fighters.


In this context, it becomes clear why the West can not protect the Syrian people. The western alliance has to get its people from the battlefield, which is always difficult after a lost battle. It is unclear whether Russians and Syrians are willing to let the mercenaries be safely taken away. It is also unclear where the mercenaries should be taken to.

The statements of the EU and Germany are to be read against this background. The AFP summarizes:

EU heads of state have welcomed the protection of the Aleppo population, but at the same time they are powerless when it comes to solving the Syrian conflict that they themselves created. In the final declaration of the EU summit in Brussels, they condemned the attacks on the Syrian city on Thursday evening and demanded that the inhabitants must be able to leave East Aleppo "in safety and dignity". Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) spoke of a "very depressing" situation and raised serious accusations against Russia and Iran.

The evacuation of East Aleppo[1], begun on Thursday, must take place under the auspices of the United Nations, is the final statement. At the same time, it must be possible to bring relief supplies and medicines into the city. Doctors and hospitals must be protected in all of Syria.

EU Council President Donald Tusk called for the immediate establishment of "humanitarian corridors" at the end of the EU summit. "The protection of civilians is an absolute priority."

At the same time Tusk admitted that in the Syrian conflict, the EU was not as effective as we would have liked it to be in the face of the "brutality of the regime" and its Russian and Iranian allies.[US/EU propaganda of course] The EU is not, however, indifferent to the suffering of the Syrian people and the union will continue to exert pressure on the actors.
Merkel also sounded downcast as she expressed herself about the situation in Syria "I will not deny the fact that I find this part of the discussion very depressing, because we all see something in this 21st century, something that is shameful, that breaks our hearts, and which shows that we can not act politically in a way we would have liked to act."

At the same time, she accused Russia and Iran of being responsible for attacks on civilians and hospitals in Aleppo. These are "crimes that must also be punished".

Evacuation of people from the beleaguered eastern part of Aleppo started on Thursday in this contested city. The French President François Hollande warned in Brussels that 50,000 people were still "trapped" in East Aleppo.

No threat of sanctions against Russia can be found in the final declaration - EU heads of state have no hope that such sanctions could possibly exert pressure on Moscow. The Summit declaration simply states that "the EU is considering all available options." Hollande said that sanctions are not excluded in the future, "but we are not yet there".

The last EU summit of the year was entirely devoted to the dramatic situation in Aleppo. The mayor of the city's eastern part, Brita Hagi Hassan, was invited to the meeting in Brussels.

"We urgently need a coalition to force the regime and the Iranian militia on the ground to honor the cease-fire," Brita Hagi Hassan said. "And we have to organize the safe evacuation of the civilians." He warned: "What is taking place here is reminiscent of the silence by the international community concerning the crimes against humanity in Syria."


[1] Tausende bewaffnete Söldner dürfen Ost-Aleppo verlassen (Thousands of armed mercenaries are allowed to leave Aleppo)

"Among the 34,000 people evacuated from East Aleppo, there are about 4,000 armed mercenaries, as stated by the Red Cross. They are equipped not only with guns but also with explosive belts and bombs, according to the mercenary-portal NGO."

Source in German: Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten


Siv O'Neall is an Axis of Logic columnist, based in France. Her insightful essays are republished and read worldwide. She can be reached at

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