Readers may remember that the first new ‘Islamic resistance’ formation in Syria that came to wider media attention was Liwa Abu al-Fadl al-Abbas. The group’s founding is attributed to two individuals: one of the two is Ahmad Kayara (real name: Ahmad Hassan Nash’an al-Atwani), who was of Iraqi origin and had been involved in the Mahdi Army during the U.S. occupation of Iraq. After he was arrested by the Americans in 2007 and subsequently released, he is said to have migrated to Syria, where he was residing when unrest broke out in that country. He was killed on 29 December 2012. The other individual is Hussein Ajeeb Jazza, who was killed on 1 January 2013 and was from the Shi’i village of Nubl in north Aleppo countryside.
Initially operating in the National Defence Forces network and led by Abu Ajeeb (Maher Ajeeb Jazza, Hussein’s brother), Liwa Abu al-Fadl al-Abbas was the name under which many of the first prominent Iraqis fighting in Syria gained renown, such as Hayder al-Juburi (Abu Shahed), who then went on to lead Liwa Dhu al-Fiqar, and Aqil al-Musawi, who established Liwa Assad Allah al-Ghalib. Even as new groups emerged, the original Liwa Abu al-Fadl al-Abbas under Abu Ajeeb endured, with the creation of an Iraqi wing led by Izz al-Din al-Darraji (Abu Amir).
It turns out that the original Liwa Abu al-Fadl al-Abbas became affiliated with the Republican Guard. Open evidence for this affiliation can be found from as early as the first half of 2014, with the group being described as part of ‘Qadesh’ (Quwat al-Difa’ al-Sha’abi: Popular Defence Forces), a network of auxiliary forces established by the Republican Guard that I had previously identified as being established at around the turn of 2014. A source from Liwa Abu al-Fadl al-Abbas, however, says that the affiliation of the group with ‘Qadesh’ dates back to 2013, and that ‘Qadesh’ was established around the beginning of 2013.
An ID card for a member of Liwa Abu al-Fadl al-Abbas found in 2014 further attests to the affiliation of the group with ‘Qadesh’:
“Syrian Arab Republic,
General Command for Army and Armed Forces
Quwat al-Difa’ al-Sha’abi
Liwa Abu al-Fadl al-Abbas
The mujahid: Muhammad Mustafa Shibli
National no.: 02010126237
Weapons no.: 257118
Leader of Liwa Abu al-Fadl al-Abbas”
More recently, evidence shows that at least the ‘elite’ part of Liwa Abu al-Fadl al-Abbas has been integrated into the Republican Guard’s 105th brigade. In keeping with the Republican Guard affiliations, Liwa Abu al-Fadl al-Abbas has long been involved on Damascus frontlines where the Republican Guard has also fought, even prior to the current East Ghouta offensive, in which Liwa Abu al-Fadl al-Abbas has eagerly advertised its role. The source from Liwa Abu al-Fadl al-Abbas clarifies that the group has also fought in Aleppo, Khanaser (Aleppo province), Kanasba (Latakia province) and Raqqa province.
Parallels with the integration of Liwa Abu al-Fadl al-Abbas into the Republican Guard include the integration of Liwa al-Imam al-Hussein into the 4th Division, and Hayder al-Juburi’s role in the al-Bustan Association’s Quwat Dir’ al-Watan. As always, it is important to see how groups develop over time and may become integrated into larger networks.