Profile: Furqat Suqour al-Shamal (SNA)
This is a preview of future subscriber-only content: actor profiles that will initially focus on the several dozen factions of the Syrian National Army. I plan on continuously adding to such profiles after initial publication with updated materials as well as newly uncovered historical details. For example with regards to this profile of Suqour al-Shamal I will soon expand the ‘SNA history’ and ‘Leadership’ sections with more in-depth information and links to additional reading.
Furqat Suqour al-Shamal - فرقة صقور الشمال
‘Hawks of the North Division’
Until 2022: Liwa’ Suqour al-Shamal/لواء صقور الشمال/Kuzey Kartalları Tugayı/Kuzey Şahinleri (‘Hawks of the North Brigade’), additionally used the name ‘5th Division’ during Op. Olive Branch (2018)
Founded in September 2016 during Turkey’s Operation Euphrates Shield as a splinter from Idlib-based Liwa’ Suqour al-Jabal
SNA member since the announcement of its formation on December 30 2017
Moderate size, claims to field 2,500 fighters
Hasan Hajj ‘Ali Khayriyah
b. 1977 in Kansafrah, Idlib
Defected from the Syrian Arab Army in 2012
Founded Idlib-based Liwa’ Suqour Jabal al-Zawiyah (later known as Liwa’ Suqour al-Jabal) in September 2012
Khalil Hajj ‘Ali
Reportedly commanded the group’s deployment to Libya in 2020-21
Twitter account (inactive since 2021)
Ahmed Abu ‘Uday al-Khayriyah (deceased)
killed on October 24 2016 fighting against the Islamic State in northern Aleppo
Areas of activity:
Afrin - Bulbul, Ma’batli subdistricts
Euphrates Shield - Akhtarin, al-Ghandourah, Sawran subdistricts
Peace Spring - Ras al-’Ain/Serê Kaniyê subdistricts
SNA unit number:
Since then the faction has been assigned several different legion/division/brigade numbers:
2nd Legion, 27th Division (since Feb 2023)
2nd Legion, 22nd Division, 224th Brigade (Mar 2019 - Feb 2023)
1st Legion, 14th Division, 144th Brigade (until Mar 2019)
Harakat Tha’iroun/Hay’at Tha’iroun lil-Tahrir [Jan 2022] (Oct 14 2021 - defunct)
’Azm Operations Room (Jul 28 2021 - Aug 23 2021, Oct 14 2021 - defunct)
al-Jabhah al-Suriyah lil-Tahrir (Sep 9 2021 - Oct 14 2021)
Founded in late September 2016 in northern Aleppo during Turkey’s Operation Euphrates Shield by former elements of Liwa’ Suqour al-Jabal. This followed Liwa’ Suqour al-Jabal’s September 16 2016 announcement that it was suspending its participation in the operation and withdrawing from the northern Aleppo front to reinforce Aleppo city and other areas threatened by regime offensives.
Prior to the formation of the Syrian National Army in late 2017 Suqour al-Shamal belonged to the ‘Sultan Murad Bloc.’
Took part in Operation Olive Branch (2018), Operation Peace Spring (2019)
Reportedly sent fighters to Libya as mercenaries part of the Turkish intervention (2019 - ) in support of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA)
[section to be expanded soon]
Liwa’ Suqour Jabal al-Zawiyah was formed in 2012 as part of nationwide opposition coalition Alwiyat Ahfad al-Rasoul, and remained part of this umbrella until at least March 2013.
In March 2014 the faction had joined the Syria Revolutionaries’ Front, head by Jamal Ma’rouf. Around the same time its name changed to Liwa’ Suqour al-Jabal.
By May 2014 Suqour al-Jabal began receiving US-made TOW anti-tank missiles via the CIA’s Operation Timber Sycamore, only a month after the weapons system first appeared in Syria.
Over the next two years Suqour al-Jabal would become one of the most prolific TOW users within the Syrian opposition. By August 2016, when Suqour al-Shamal split from Suqour al-Jabal, the group had fired at least 113 TOWs, approximately 11% of the total documented TOW launches in Syria during this time period.
While Suqour al-Jabal was primarily based in Idlib and around Aleppo city, by May 2015 it began reporting a small presence in northern Aleppo around A’zaz and Mare’. There its fighters took part in the fighting against the Islamic State as part of the Mare’ Operations Room and later the Hawar Kilis Operations Room, coalitions of FSA-branded and Islamist factions in the area. This northern Aleppo contingent appears to have been small as only about 16% of Suqour al-Jabal’s total ATGM launches between late May 2015 and August 2016 took place on this front.
Suqour al-Jabal only participated in Turkey’s Operation Euphrates Shield, launched on August 24, 2016, for three weeks before announcing its withdrawal due regime advances in Aleppo city.
Qestelê Miqdêd, Afrin
Hawar Kilis military crossing, Euphrates Shield region
al-’Azatiyah, Euphrates Shield region
al-Ghandourah, Euphrates Shield region
Ras al-’Ain/Serê Kaniyê, Peace Spring region
Twitter account (Apr 2021 - )
Twitter account (Dec 2018 - May 2019)
Twitter account (Feb 2018 - Mar 2018)
Twitter account (Sep 2016 - Oct 2017)
Telegram account (Apr 2021 - )
’Archive’ Telegram account - private (Oct 2019 - Apr 2021)
YouTube channel (Jan 2018 - Oct 2021)
’Humanitarian Office’ YouTube channel (Oct 2020)
YouTube channel (Oct 2019 - Nov 2019)
YouTube channel (Sep 2016 - Oct 2017)
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