The Syrian civil war has seen the rise of a number of auxiliary forces for the Syrian army. In this post I will focus on the interesting case of Katibat al-Shaheed Samir Rahal (The Martyr Samir Rahal Battalion), which is based in the locality of Qara in the west Qalamoun region near the border with Lebanon.
As the group’s name suggests, it is named for Samir Rahal, who died in a highly sensitive operation whose precise details cannot be disclosed. The battalion’s formation was officially declared in 2014, with some 400 fighters in its ranks. Hezbollah was responsible for the initial organization and training of the battalion.
The battalion has fought in a wide range of areas, including:
– The Qalamoun mountains (e.g. Qara, Jarajeer, al-Mushrifa)
– The July-August 2017 offensive against Islamic State and other insurgents that led to the full recapture of the west Qalamoun area.
– Homs desert (Mahassa, Muheen, Palmyra, al-Sukhna)
– Deir az-Zor and Albukamal
However, the group continues to work in assignments with the resistance and the asdiqa’ (i.e. Hezbollah and the Iranians). Right now, members of the group are undergoing further training while also strengthening some security points in the west Qalamoun region. The battalion also participated in recent demonstrations in Nabk in support of the Syrian army.
In short, the case of Katibat al-Shaheed Samir Rahal illustrates how relations between the Syrian army on the one hand and the resistance and asdiqa’ on the other hand have not only been confined to the framework of the Local Defence Forces.
From these operations, the group had three ‘martyrs’ in Albukamal and 25 wounded, one ‘martyr’ in Deir az-Zor and one ‘martyr’ in the Qalamoun mountains.