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Syrian Civil War factions

Guide to the factions of the Syrian civil war by Bulbajer

guide, politics, Syria, Middle East

Guide to the Factions of the Syrian Civil War

(now with an update log!)

by Bulbajer

Wordpress … Facebook … Twitter

Additional help by the Syria Research Group (@void_xeroxed, Šerif Imamagić, Ryan O'Farrell, Hasan Mustafa, Alexander Killian, Ömer Özkizilcik, Noor Nahas, Vince Beshara, Abdulelah, Hampton Stall, Yazid_Umayya, shaikh, Abdulrhman al-Masri, revolutionfarsi, Sol, LaLaKdaho, Abu Omar al-Shami, Tristan Sloughter, Ayman al-Das, Desert Fox Reporting, Wyvern, Omar al-Addem, Jens Hittrien, Yalla Souriya, Eray, DrThrax123, john_locke_next_02, and myself)

Other sources and resources used: Wikipedia, Syria in Crisis (Carnegie Middle East Center), Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi’s blog, Al-Monitor, Syria Comment, Jihadology, Hasan Mustafa’s blog, Charles Lister’s Twitter, Thomas van Linge’s Twitter, this collaboration between @void_xeroxed and Ryan O’Farrell, Hassan Hassan’s Twitter, Rao Komar’s Twitter, Henry Leconte’s Twitter, MENAConflict’s Twitter, Jihad Intel (Middle East Forum), Syrian Rebellion Observatory, Syria Direct, /r/syriancivilwar, /u/flintsparc, /u/wiki-1000, Google/Google Images/Google Translate, YouTube

Last updated: November 16, 2020

Political factions

Government and supporters


Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (Rojava)

Military factions

Government and supporters


Islamic State

Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (Rojava)

Notable former groups

Notable regional alliances (operations rooms)

Political factions

* Government and supporters

* National Progressive Front (ruling coalition)

* Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party – Syria Region

Ideology: Assadist neo-Ba’athism (personalism, Arab nationalism, authoritarianism, Alawite favoritism, socialism (nominally)). The original Ba’ath Party split in 1966 between the Syrian and Iraqi branches. The Assadist (pro-Syrian) and Saddamist (pro-Iraqi) movements have little ideological differences, but their rivalry has been fierce. The Syrian Ba’ath has ruled Syria since 1963; the Assad family has led the party since 1970.

* Arab Socialist Union Party of Syria

Ideology: Nasserism

* Syrian Communist Party (Bakdash)

Ideology: Stalinism. The original SCP split in 1986 over the issue of perestroika, with the SCP-B being opposed to it.

* Syrian Communist Party (Unified)

Ideology: Leninism. aka Syrian Communist Party (Faysal). This was the pro-perestroika faction of the split.

* Socialist Unionist Party

Ideology: Nasserism. Split from the Ba’ath Party in 1961.

* National Covenant Movement

Ideology: Arab nationalism, socialism. Split from the Arab Socialist Movement.

* Syrian Social Nationalist Party

Ideology: Greater Syria (incorporation of wider Levant region, especially Lebanon and Palestine, into Syria), Syrian nationalism (historically ultranationalism), left-leaning economics, Christian interests, anti-Semitism. It has its own militia (see Nusur al-Zawba’a). Was a part of the Popular Front for Change and Liberation from 2012-2014.

* Arab Socialist Movement (pro-government faction)

Ideology: Arab nationalism, socialism. Founded in 1950, it was an early rival to the Ba’athists, though much smaller. It merged into the Ba’ath in 1953 but split in 1963. In 1972 it joined the ruling National Progressive Front, leading to a split. Another faction of the party supports the opposition (see its entry in the opposition section). In recent years the pro-government faction has lost representation in the legislature, but it continues to identify with the National Progressive Front. Two armed groups are led by members of the party: the Tribal Fighters Forces and the Zilal Groups.

* Arab Democratic Union Party

Ideology: Nasserism. Split from the Arab Socialist Union Party of Syria in 1981. Like the Arab Socialist Movement, it is no longer represented in the government.

* Democratic Socialist Unionist Party

Ideology: Nasserism, democratic socialism? Split from the Socialist Unionist Party in 1974. Another party that has lost representation in recent years.

* Front for Change and Liberation (officially-sanctioned legal opposition) Logo of the PFCL.jpg

* People’s Will Party

Ideology: Leninism. Expelled from Syrian Communist Party (Bakdash) under allegations of Trotskyism. Led by Qadri Jamil, who is seen as very close to Russia. It signed an agreement with the National Coordinating Committee (see opposition section) in 2014.

* Social Democratic Unionists

Ideology: Social democracy, Arab nationalism (presumably). It was part of the ruling NPF but has lost representation in recent years and may no longer exist.

* Syrian National Youth Party Logo of the SNYP.svg

Ideology: pro-democracy. Has a militia that has been accused of lawlessness and has clashed with the YPG.

* Democratic Arab Solidarity Party

Ideology: Arab nationalism, pro-democracy. Considered part of the Russian-backed “opposition”.

* Palestinian Democratic Party

Ideology: Palestinian nationalism, anti-Zionism. A Palestinian refugee party. It has an armed wing known as the Liberation and Return Company.

* Free Palestine Movement

Ideology: Palestinian nationalism, anti-Zionism, anti-Semitism. Another party made up of Palestinians. It has an armed wing known as the al-Aqsa Shield Forces.

* Syrian Steadfastedness Party

Ideology: Ba’athism? Formed in 2016. Emphasizes its loyalty to the ideals of Hafez al-Assad.

* Men of Dignity

Ideology: Druze interests. Sometimes translated as “Sheikhs of Dignity”. Led by popular Druze sheikh Wahid al-Balous, who strongly criticized the regime but did not join the opposition. Balous was killed in a bombing in September 2015; the perpetrator is unclear, but the Syrian government seems to be the most likely candidate. The group also has several associated militias, many of which are united under Quwat al-Fahd (see armed section).

* Forces of the Men of Dignity

Ideology: Druze interests. Formed by the sons of Wahid al-Balous in March 2018 after they felt that the Men of Dignity’s new leader was not strong enough. This new group stresses that it is not a rival of the original group. In February 2019 the Forces of the Men of Dignity established an armed wing called the Shield of the Men of Dignity (see armed section).

* Arab Druze Identity Movement DefendDruzeIdentityLogo

Ideology: Druze interests. Focused on defending Druze identity from perceived cooptation, particularly “Shi’ification”. Like the Men of Dignity, it is highly critical of the regime despite not being part of the opposition.

* Lebanese political parties:

* Syrian Social Nationalist Party in Lebanon

(see SSNP above)

* Hezbollah

Ideology: Shia Islamism, anti-Zionism. Also involved militarily.

* Arab Democratic Party

Ideology: Arab nationalism, Arab socialism. Often seen as a Syrian-backed Alawite party.

* Popular Nasserist Organization

Ideology: Nasserism

* Arab Tawhid Party

Ideology: Arab nationalism, Druze interests

* Amal Movement

Ideology: Shia interests, Arab nationalism, conservatism. The other major Shia party in Lebanon.

* Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq ISCI Flag

Ideology: Shia Islamism. One of the main Shia parties in Iraq. Like the Badr Organization, it has connections in the Iraqi intelligence sector and (to a lesser extent) is associated with anti-Sunni discrimination. Ideologically close to Iran, though since 2007 it has moderated its pro-Iranian rhetoric.

* Badr Organization Badr Organisation Political Logo.jpg

Ideology: Shia Islamism. See military section below. It split from the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq in 2012.

* possibly other Iraqi Shia parties?

* Patriotic Party Patriotic Party

Ideology: socialism, Kemalism, Maoism? A Turkish party.

* Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine/Abu Ali Mustapha Brigades Pflp logo.gif PFLP flag.png Abualimustafa.png

Ideology: Leninism, anti-Zionism, Palestinian nationalism. One of the major Palestinian militant groups, although they have, along with other left-wing groups, ceded the spotlight to Islamist groups like Hamas. Currently close to both Iran and Syria, but not enough to truly be considered a proxy group like the PFLP-GC.

* Arab Resistance Movement to Liberate Palestine

Ideology: Arab nationalism, anti-Zionism, Palestinian nationalism. Formed in February 2019 amid several

Syrian Civil War factions
Tags Guide, Politics, Syria, Middle East
Type Google Doc
Published 21/11/2020, 04:48:22


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