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Syrian Democratic Forces

قوات سوريا الديمقراطية

Hêzên Sûriya Demokratîk
Participant in Syrian Civil War
Flag of Syrian Democratic Forces
Flag of SDF
Active 10 October 2015 – present
Headquarters Hasakah, Syria
Area of
Hasakah Governorate[1]
Al-Raqqah Governorate
Allies Seal of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve.jpg Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve
Opponents al-Nusra Front
Ahrar ash-Sham[2]
AQMI Flag.svg Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant

The Syrian Democratic Forces (Arabic language: قوات سوريا الديمقراطية‎, Kurdish language: Hêzên Sûriya Demokratîk) or SDF, are an alliance of Kurdish, Arab, Assyrians and Armenian militias established during the Syrian Civil War. Founded in October 2015, they seek to expel the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant from the Ar-Raqqah Governorate and other areas in Syria. The SDF consider themselves a "unified national military force to all Syrians consisting of Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians and all others living in the geographical locations of Syria." Furthermore, they are aiming to build a self-governing, inclusive and democratic Syria.[citation needed]

The alliance builds upon the successful Euphrates Volcano joint operations of the Syrian Kurdish YPG and certain factions of the Free Syrian Army, who helped defend the Kurdish town of Kobanê. Euphrates Volcano was later joined by Liwa Thuwwar al-Raqqa, who participated in the capture of Tell Abyad from the Islamic State. The larger Syrian Democratic Forces alliance now also includes forces from self-administered Jazira Canton as the Christian Syriac Military Council and the largely pro-government Al-Sanadid Forces, who helped the YPG in purging the IS from Al-Hasakah.[citation needed]

With a strength of around 4,000 fighters, the Arab groups within the alliance will operate under the joint name Syrian Arab Coalition and will be committed to push down towards ISIS de facto capital Ar-Raqqah, while staying east of the Euphrates river.[3] Some of the remaining U.S.-Pentagon-trained rebels will also be part of the new forces, tasked with "calling in airstrikes against ISIS and recruiting moderate rebels".[4]


The establishment was announced on 11 October 2015. The alliance was officially established during a press conference in al-Hasakah.[5]

Signatory groupsEdit

The following thirteen groups signed the founding document:[5]

Acceeding groupsEdit

At the end of October, the tribal Liwaa Siqur El-Badiye group joined the SDF to fight ISIL in the southern countryside of Hasakah province.[6]

On 15 November, former FSA group Furat Jarablus announced its accession to the Syrian Democratic Forces.[7]

Request by Idlib and Aleppo groupsEdit

In November 2015, 15 rebel groups in Aleppo and Idlib governorates expressed their readiness to be part of the Syrian Democratic Forces.[8] However, the SDF has made no reply to their request. The groups are:

  • Jaysh al-Thuwar (Idlib and Aleppo branches)
  • New Syrian Forces (Idlib and Aleppo branches)
  • Idlib Countryside Martyrs Brigade
  • Ayn Jalout Brigade
  • 99th Brigade
  • al-Hamzah Brigade
  • al-Qaqa Brigade
  • Special Operations Center 455
  • Seljuk Brigade
  • Regiment 102
  • Ahrar al-Shamal
  • Tribal Forces in Aleppo and it countryside
  • Jabhat al-Akrad (Aleppo)
  • YPG and YPJ[8] (Sheikh Maqsood)

Support by the U.S. led allianceEdit

On 12 October 2015, the Pentagon confirmed U.S. C-17 transport aircraft having dropped 100 pallets with 45 tons of arms and ammunition over Northern Syria to benefit "Arab groups." YPG spokesman Polat Can confirmed the airdrop over Rojava, identifying the freight as being "assault rifles, mortars and ammunition, but no TOW anti-tank missiles nor anti-aircraft weapons."[9] However, the main Arab groups within the Syrian Arab Coalition denied that they received the shipment and pointed out that the airdrop may have been intended for their Kurdish allies.[10]

While the weapons are primarily intended for the Arab affiliates turning towards Raqqa, Can reiterated the Kurds’ first priority was linking the Kurdish enclave of Afrin with Kobani, thereby clearing the remaining 60 miles of Syria–Turkey border, including the border town of Jarablus, from IS occupation.[9] YPG General commander Sipan Hemo however told the London-based al-Hayat newspaper that an attack on the IS headquarters in ar-Raqqah was expected "within weeks."[11]

The airdrop came only days after the Pentagon had officially abandoned its failed $500m train-and-equip program of "moderate rebels" fighting ISIS.[12] It was mildly criticized by Russian FM Sergey Lavrov, who feared "at least a considerable part of these weapons will fall into the terrorists’ hands."[13]

See alsoEdit


  1. Tim Lister (1 November 2015). "New assaults on ISIS in Iraq and in Syria". CNN. 
  2. "Nusra reportedly attacks newly pledged SDF forces in Aleppo". Syria Direct. 25 November 2015. 
  3. Suleiman al-Khalidi; Tom Perry (12 October 2015). "New Syrian rebel alliance formed, says weapons on the way". Reuters. Retrieved 13 October 2015. 
  4. Bill Chappell (12 October 2015). "New Rebel Coalition Forms In Syria; Insurgents Lost Ground Over Weekend". NPR. Retrieved 13 October 2015. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Declaration of establishment by Syrian Democratic Forces". Kurdish Question. 15 October 2015. Retrieved 15 October 2015. 
  6. "أبناء العشائر العربية يشكلون لواءً وينضمون إلى QSD". Hawar News. 7 November 2015. Retrieved 24 November 2015. 
  7. "من هم تجمع كتائب فرات جرابلس؟". Hawar News. 22 November 2015. Retrieved 24 November 2015. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 "15 rebel factions are ready to fight under SDF banner in Aleppo and Idlib". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. 15 November 2015. Retrieved 17 November 2015. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 Roy Gutman (12 October 2015). "U.S. begins airdrops of weapons to Kurdish forces in northern Syria". McClatchy. Retrieved 13 October 2015. 
  10. "Syrian Arab militias dispute they received U.S. airdrop of ammunition". McClatchy DC. 20 October 2015. Retrieved 9 November 2015. 
  11. Tom Perry (13 October 2015). "Syrian Kurdish militia sees Raqqa assault 'within weeks': report". Reuters. Retrieved 13 October 2015. 
  12. "Syria conflict: US air drop for anti-IS forces in Hassakeh". BBC. 12 October 2015. 
  13. "Lavrov: Little doubt US arms delivered to Syrian opposition to fall into terrorists' hands". RT. 13 October 2015. Retrieved 13 October 2015. 

External linksEdit

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