Army of Conquest

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Army of Conquest
جيش الفتح
Participant in the Syrian Civil War
Emblem of the Jaish al-Fatah.svg
Active 24 March 2015[1] – present
Ideology Sunni Islamism[2]
Groups Ahrar ash-Sham
Al-Nusra Front
Liwa al-Haqq
Jaysh al-Sunna
Ajnad al-Sham
Imam Bukhari Jamaat
Turkistan Islamic Party[3][4]
Jaysh al-Nasr (alleged)
Headquarters Idlib,Syria
Area of operations Syria
Strength 10,000+ fighters (in Idlib)[citation needed]
Allies Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia
Turkey Turkey
Qatar Qatar
Jaish al-Haramoun
Battle of Victory
Saraya Ahl al-Sham
Jund al-Malahm
Northern Homs Countryside Operations Room
Opponents
Battles and wars Syrian Civil War
Website {{#property:P856}}

The Army of Conquest (Arabic: جيش الفتح‎‎) or Jaish al-Fatah, abbreviated JaF, is a joint operations room of Islamist Syrian rebel factions participating in the Syrian Civil War.

The alliance was formed in March 2015 by Islamist rebel factions mainly active in the Idlib Governorate, with some factions active in the Hama and Latakia Governorates.[2] In the course of the following months, it seized most of Idlib province.[8] It is actively supported by Saudi Arabia and Turkey.[9]

In an October 2015 publication, the Washington D.C.-based Institute for the Study of War considered Jaish al-Fatah as one of the "powerbrokers" in Idlib, Hama, Daraa and Quneitra provinces, though not in Damascus province, being primarily "anti-regime" and "anti-Hezbollah" but not necessarily "anti-ISIS".[10]

Participants

At its founding, Jaish al-Fatah contained seven members, three of them — al-Nusra, Ahrar ash-Sham, and Jund al-Aqsa are directly connected to Al-Qaeda or have a similar ideology. With Ahrar ash-Sham being the largest group,[11] al-Nusra and Ahrar ash-Sham together were reported to represent 90 percent of the troops.[12] Another prominent Islamist faction in the operations room was the Muslim Brotherhood of Syria-linked Sham Legion (Faylaq Al-Sham). Jaish al-Fatah collaborated with more moderate Free Syrian Army factions such as Knights of Justice Brigade.[13]

The coalition's initial success has been attributed to its strong coherence, with the name of individual factions being forbidden when the group conducts joint operations.[14]

List of members

History

Formation

Jaish al-Fatah declared its formation on 24 March 2015.[1] On the same day, a pro-opposition source claimed that about fifty Syrian government soldiers defected to the new operations room.[1] The Army of Conquest captured Idlib City on 28 March 2015.[20] In the following months, they spearheaded an offensive that drove out government forces from almost all of Idlib Governorate.[8] Following this success, additional branches of the Army of Conquest were established in other parts of Syria.[21]

The Army of Conquest coalition was partially modelled upon the success of the Southern Front of the Free Syrian Army,[22] and in turn newer coalitions, like the Battle of Victory, were modelled on the Army of Conquest.[23]

Expansion to other parts of Syria

In early May 2015, the Army of Conquest formed a new branch in Western Qalamoun, called Jaish al-Fatah al-Qalamoun.[21] On 1 October 2015, after defeats by pro-Assad forces, Jaish al-Fatah al-Qalamoun was replaced by an independent faction called Saraya Ahl al-Sham, which aims to unite all rebel factions in Western Qalamoun.[24]

Also in June, the al-Nusra Front issued a statement calling on the opposition in the Eastern Ghouta area of Damascus to form a similar coalition,[25] but this call was rejected by the Unified Military Command of Eastern Ghouta,[26] a grouping which includes the most prominent factions in the area.

In October 2015 Army of Conquest members al-Nusra Front and Ahrar ash-Sham (also a member of the Unified Military Command of Eastern Ghouta), along with other groups formed Jund al-Malahm, an operations room in the Eastern Ghouta area of Damascus, in direct competition with the Unified Military Command of Eastern Ghouta operations room. Ajnad al-Sham Islamic Union, which is another military council member also joined this new operations room.[citation needed]

Restructuring

On 23 October 2015, Jund al-Aqsa announced a split from Jaysh al-Fatah,[19] reportedly due to disagreements with Ahrar al-Sham over the application of Islamic law in areas under their control. Following this development, there were unconfirmed reports that al-Nusra Front, in an act of solidarity with Jund al-Aqsa, left the coalition,[27] or that Jund al-Aqsa would be rejoining Jaysh al-Fateh.[28] In January 2016, the Sham Legion announced it was leaving the group, ostensibly to redeploy it's forces to Aleppo, but also due to tensions with Jund al-Aqsa.[18][29]

In May 2016, the Army of Conquest announced it was restructuring, ending ties with Jund al-Aqsa while readmitting the Sham Legion. It was also joined by the Turkistan Islamic Party, a Jihadist group composed of Uyghurs from western China.[18]

Battles

Date Battle Place Against Result
24–28 March 2015 Second Battle of Idlib Idlib  Syria Victory
23–25 April 2015 Battle of Jisr al-Shughur Jisr al-Shughur  Syria Victory
4 May–21 June 2015 Qalamoun offensive Qalamun Hezbollah
 Syria
Defeat
18 May 2015 Battle of Al-Mastumah Al-Mastumah  Syria Victory
28 May 2015 Battle of Ariha Ariha  Syria Victory
16–26 June 2015 Quneitra offensive (2015) Quneitra Governorate  Syria Defeat
25 June–10 July 2015 Daraa offensive (June–July 2015) Daraa Governorate  Syria Defeat
28 July–28 August 2015 Al-Ghab Offensive Idlib Governorate  Syria Victory
28 March 2015–Ongoing Siege of Al-Fu'ah and Kafarya Idlib Governorate  Syria Ongoing
March – 9 September 2015 Siege of Abu al-Duhur Airbase Idlib Governorate  Syria Victory
7 October– 10 November 2015 Northwestern Syria offensive (October–November 2015) Hama Governorate  Syria Indecisive
3 May 2016–present Aleppo offensive (May 2016) Aleppo Governorate  Syria Victory

See also

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "News Update 3-25-15". Syria Direct. Retrieved 25 March 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Rebels seek to storm Idlib amid chemical fears". NOW. 25 March 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2016/05/jaysh-al-fath-coalition-launches-new-offensive-in-aleppo-province.php
  4. 4.0 4.1 http://syriadirect.org/news/victory-army-commander-on-restructuring-infighting-led-to-%E2%80%98breakdown-of-our-operational-effectiveness%E2%80%99/
  5. "Syrian rebels combat ISIS, Hezbollah in Qalamoun". ARA News. 15 May 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Jihadist coalition captures checkpoints around city of Idlib". Long War Journal. 27 March 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Al Qaeda and allies form coalition to battle Syrian regime in Idlib". Long War Journal. 24 March 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. 8.0 8.1 Ryan Rifai (6 June 2015). "Syrian group claims control of Idlib province". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 25 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Kim Sengupta (12 May 2015). "Turkey and Saudi Arabia alarm the West by backing Islamist extremists the Americans had bombed in Syria". The Independent.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Jennifer Cafarella; Genevieve Casagrande (7 October 2015). "Syrian Opposition Guide" (PDF). Backgrounder. Institute for the Study of War: 3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Syrian rebels fight Syrian army near Assad heartland". Newsweek. Reuters. 30 April 2015. Retrieved 1 May 2015. As the biggest group in Army of Fatah, Ahrar al-Sham appears to hold the key to preventing infighting.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Gulf allies and 'Army of Conquest". Al-Ahram Weekly. 28 May 2015. Jabhat Al-Nusra and Ahrar Al-Sham represent 90 per cent of the troops. The Saudis and Qataris are to provide funding for 40 per cent of the coalition’s needs<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "'Army of Conquest' rebel alliance pressures Syria regime". Daily Mail. AFP. 28 April 2015. Retrieved 2 May 2015. The coalition, whose formation was announced in March, comprises a range of mostly jihadist and Islamist groups, the most prominent being Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front and the powerful Islamist Ahrar al-Sham [...] Other important members include Faylaq al-Sham, a coalition of Muslim Brotherhood-linked battalions, and Jund al-Aqsa, a small jihadist group.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Syrian Insurgent gains expose Assad Weaknesses" AP sourced article in The New York Times. "Muayad Zurayk, an activist in Idlib city, attributed the opposition's success in the province to the joint operations room [...] "All operations stemming from the coordinated command center are done in the name of Jaish al-Fatah," he said, referring to the unified command. "It is forbidden to mention the name of any faction.""
  15. "archicivilians". Twitter. Retrieved 4 May 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Al Qaeda and allies form coalition to battle Syrian regime in Idlib". Long War Journal. 24 March 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "Taliban-Aligned Uzbek Suicide Bomber Attacks Shi'ite Village In Syria". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 21 September 2015. Retrieved 21 September 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 "Inside the Victory Army restructuring: Infighting led to 'breakdown of our operational effectiveness'". Syria Direct. Retrieved 4 May 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. 19.0 19.1 "Al Qaeda front group claims success in key Syrian town". Long War Journal. 5 November 2015. Retrieved 9 November 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "Qaeda, allies seize Syria's Idlib city in blow to regime". AFP. 28 March 2015. Retrieved 4 April 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. 21.0 21.1 Pollard, Ruth (9 May 2015). "New coalition shakes Syria's Assad regime". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 9 November 2015. The model is now being copied in areas such as the Qalamoun – the mountain ranges between Lebanon's Bekaa Valley and Syria<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. "In Syria, Support for Rebel Unity Carries Risks". Stratfor. 30 April 2015. Retrieved 1 May 2015. With the Southern Front success as a model, rebel backers then sought to deploy similar methods in the north.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. Jocelyn, Thomas (23 April 2015). "Al Nusrah Front, allies launch new offensives against Syrian regime". Long War Journal.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. "Syria rebels form new Qalamoun coalition". NOW. 1 October 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. Yousef, Sarbaz (11 June 2015). "Nusra demands Syrian rebels to unite against Assad in Damascus". ARA News. Retrieved 11 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. sohranas. "The Unified Military Command of the Eastern Ghouta refuses the invitation of Jabhat al- Nusra to establish "al- Fateh Army in the Ghouta" calling it to disband its judicial councils and join "the Unified Command"". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. Retrieved 26 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. "Reports: Al-Nusra Front leaves Jaish al-Fatah coalition in Syria". Middle East Eye.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. Sam Heller (9 November 2015). "The End of the Army of Conquest? Syrian Rebel Alliance Shows Cracks". Retrieved 7 December 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. "Syrian rebel group says exits Islamist alliance to refocus fight". Reuters. 3 January 2016. Retrieved 3 January 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>