The Leopards of Homs: A Pro-Assad Militia

By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi

FuhudHomsEmblem
Emblem of The Leopards of Homs. The Arabic reads: “Fuhud Homs: Fawj al-Maham al-Khasa” (The Leopards of Homs: Special Operations Regiment). See older emblems of the militia here.

The Homs area has seen the creation and growth of multiple militias on the regime side over the course of the Syrian civil war, including Liwa Khaybar (The Khaybar Brigade) and Quwat al-Ridha (The Ridha Forces, part of Syrian Hezbollah). The Leopards of Homs (hereafter: Fuhud Homs) is another such formation.  According to the militia’s media office, the formation dates back to 2013 in its first iteration, but was established with its current affiliation in 2015. In terms of Fuhud Homs’ relations with other pro-Assad militias, it should be noted that the leader of the formation is one Shadi Jum’a, a close associate of Abu Ja’afar (aka The Scorpion), who, as will be recalled, is the leader of Liwa Khaybar and one of the founders of the National Defence Forces (NDF) in Homs. The link between the two men is apparent from a post written by The Scorpion in late December 2015, referring to the bomb attacks that had most recently taken place in the city of Homs at that time:

“My brothers…heroes…I implore those who bore arms with me against the terrorists from the first of the events [‘events’- a pro-regime term for the civil war]: my brother Muhammad al-Ali, my brother Shadi Jum’a, my brother Muhannad [typo?- Muhammad] al-Hajji, all my brothers in the National Defence in Homs, the family of Ghanim al-Sayis, the resisters, and I refrain from mentioning the rest of the names: we must do something for our people in Homs, our children, women and brothers are being killed every day. Others besides us will not protect our people, we do not want rebellion, and we will not direct our arms against our state that we have protected with our people, but we will not barter, and we only want to protect our areas.

The Scorpion.”

The Scorpion himself clarifies to me that there is a distinction between the Fuhud Homs of Shadi Jum’a and the Fuhud Forces [aka Fuhud Groups] contingent of Suheil al-Hassan’s well-known Tiger Forces militia. The latter’s leader- Muhammad al-Hajji, was killed last month fighting the Islamic State (IS) in the vicinity of Palmyra, and was the brother of the group’s founder and prior leader Ali al-Hajji, who was killed in fighting in the Sahl al-Ghab in August 2015. The brothers were from the Talkalakh area of Homs.

In contrast with the Fuhud Forces, Shadi Jum’a was originally working with The Scorpion and the Homs NDF circles (which is presumably what the Fuhud Homs media office means by the militia’s original iteration in 2013). By May 2014, Shadi Jum’a was already identified as leader of a militia contingent in an account of a prominent incident of infighting that took place between pro-regime militias in the city of Homs. In 2015, he established Fuhud Homs in its present iteration of affiliation with prominent regime businessman Rami Makhlouf’s al-Bustan Association. Thus the Fuhud Homs media office denies an NDF affiliation in the current formation (contrary to an al-Quds al-Arabi report that mentions Fuhud Homs).

It should further be recalled that the al-Bustan Association officially has other militias under its umbrella, most notably the Dir’ al-Watan Forces led by the Iraqi Shi’i militia commander Hayder al-Jiburi, which partly constitutes a project of providing cover for Liwa Dhu al-Fiqar under the supposed framework of the Syrian state in order to counter criticism of Iraqi Shi’i militia intervention on behalf of the Assad regime. On its own media page, Fuhud Homs mentions the al-Bustan Association affiliation in one post:

“And from Fuhud Homs- Special Operations Regiment (al-Bustan Association)- one of the popular defence formations- we pledge to God, the homeland and the leader of the homeland to complete the path of victory behind him, and shoulder to shoulder with our Syrian Arab Army, until victory, rebuilding and returning with Syria more beautiful than what it was under the protection of its leadership.

Soldiers of Assad, Fuhud Homs, Guardians of the Den.”

In its current iteration, Fuhud Homs has advertised operations on two main fronts, though unlike other pro-Assad militias there appears to be a lack of distinct insignia for fighters on the ground. The first main front comprises engagements against IS in the Homs desert, with the ongoing fighting involving the strategic asset of al-Maher gas field. Operations in the Homs desert have also involved securing the Jazal oil field area as well as combat on the Qaryatayn and Palmyra fronts. The other major operations front for Fuhud Homs is participation in the ongoing siege of the rebel-held Damascus suburb town of Darayya, during which Fuhud Homs has claimed more than one ‘martyr’ (fallen fighter). One such ‘martyr’ was Hayder al-Nasir, who was reportedly from Bayt al-Tawil street in the Wadi al-Dhahab neighbourhood of Homs city and was killed in December 2015 by sniper fire as he tried to help a wounded companion. More recently on the Darayya front, Fuhud Homs claimed a ‘martyr’ called Tamam al-Ali, who was reportedly from the Karm al-Zaytoun neighbourhood of Homs city and was killed in late April 2016.

Fuhud Homs also claimed a number of ‘martyrs’ in May 2015 as Palmyra fell to IS. A table below gives their names and reported origins. The majority of these ‘martyrs’ appear to come from predominantly Alawite areas. One should also note that other sources beyond Fuhud Homs giving the names of these ‘martyrs’ do not necessarily agree on group affiliation. For example one of the pages cited attributes some of these ‘martyrs’ to the NDF. This may be a product of overlap in affiliation or simple error. There are also some discrepancies in origins that may be a result of conflation with place of residence.

Name Reported Origin
Ali al-Sheikh Bayt al-Tawil Street
Mohsen Makhlouf Zahara’, Homs [?]
Raghed Sadiq Karam al-Louz, Homs
Muhammad al-Suleiman Ein Hussein, Homs [?]
Salah Ibrahim Al-Mukharram, Homs
Mudhhir al-Hassan Wadi al-Dhahab
Hafez Gharra Ram al-Anz, Homs
Muntajib Sarhan Ram al-Anz, Homs
Samer al-Barudi Warida, Homs [a Christian village]

In short, the case of Fuhud Homs presents an interesting insight into the evolution of the pro-Assad militia networks in the Homs area. The militias will likely compete among each other for influence in the Assad regime rump state as they will probably continue to grow in power, partly because they present a better financial alternative for recruits than the regular Syrian Arab Army, which faces an ongoing crisis with the declining value of the Syrian pound.

 

Comments (29)


1. SANDRO LOEWE said:

Syriacomment has become the index of the most exotic ¨militias¨ in Syria. I believe knowing there is a ¨milita¨ called The Leopards of Homs is irrelevant.

Specially if we consider that they are not militias but a part of a big army of mercenaries formed, armed, and paid by Iran, Russia and Assad.

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May 16th, 2016, 5:45 am

 

2. Akbar Palace said:

Sandro Loewe,

Don’t be upset. The information Syria Comment provides will add to the wonderful, useless database the CIA collects for its archives.

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May 16th, 2016, 7:52 am

 

3. Observer said:

http://www.champress.net/index.php?q=ar/Article/view/69431

http://syrianobserver.com/EN/News/31026/Activists_Warn_Bread_Crisis_Government_held_Areas

http://syrianobserver.com/EN/News/31027/Another_Blaze_Engulfs_Market_Old_Damascus

Here are the real news worth reading. Again this blog has nothing but irrelevant garbage.

I note that there is an absence of any mention of the SAA; and I notice that there is a force that if fighting in Daraya called the Arab National Force or something and made up of foreign fighters from the Arab countries.

There was no news on Syria today from Manar or AlAlam or Mayaddeen except for one piece about trying to retake a village.

As for hatred of Muslims on this blog it is one more time another demonstration of the quadrature du circle : the minorities wanting the majority to be secular while they remain ethnic and religious minorities. Religion and politics do not mix: the mix is toxic to both.

Just as in Lebanon in 1975 the minority thought that by force it could not only consolidate but strengthen its hold on power and now we have the same thing in Syria: miscalculation and delusion of power.

One last note: thank God for the resilience of the Syrian people who have managed to continue to survive despite 60 years of destructive and extractive rule by a hate filled mafiosi regime aiming not only to destroy the very fabric of society but to destroy the very concept of dignity.

Many remember Hafez saying that it is perfectly acceptable to “gift” the government employee for a job well done; another clear indiction of his condoning of bribes and corruption.

This week marks 100 years of Sykes Picot and the chickens have come home to roost.

Cheers.

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May 16th, 2016, 8:38 am

 

4. ALAN said:

Obama!
Why USA – in violation of its engagements of 27th February 2016 – has continued to deliver sophisticated weapons to the jihadists, including Al-Qaeda and Daesh? The Islamists become using portable ground-to-air missile-launchers, which had been introduced into the country in large quantities after the effective date of the ceasefire.
Are you defending in this way the democracy? Do you want from Americas political opponents to spread tens of thousands of these rockets across the world to shake your interests and stability? You need to understand the risk of such conduct.

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May 16th, 2016, 1:55 pm

 

5. Akbar Palace said:

Weird but True SC Posts NewZ

Do you want from Americas political opponents to spread tens of thousands of these rockets across the world to shake your interests and stability?

Ahlan,

“Political opponents” like Hezbollah?

Our Friends from Iran:

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/05/16/congressman-classified-details-irans-treatment-us-sailors-will-shock-nation.html?intcmp=hpbt1

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May 16th, 2016, 2:29 pm

 

6. SANDRO LOEWE said:

ALAN,

I thought you had died fighting on the ground along with iranian, afgan azeri, chechenyan and russian special forces trying to ¨liberate¨ Aleppo from its syrian owners. I accept aleppians are not easy but I dont find a reason to ¨liberate¨ the buildings and streets from its owners. Oh sorry, you believe Assad is the owner of all Syria and all syrians. It is not Syria´s Assad it is Assad´s Syria, right?

Human garbage is growing in Syria paid by Iran and Russia.

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May 16th, 2016, 2:46 pm

 

7. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3583469/We-bodies-thrown-buildings-Isis-Mr-Gay-Syria-contestants-wear-leather-hotpants-defiance-winner-reveals-boyfriend-beheaded-Islamic-State-extremists.html

Syria was never a heaven for the GLBT community. There was lots of struggle, mainly with the conservativeness of the Syrian society and issues of acceptance. But GLBT people managed to live there.

This cannot be said on today’s Syria, in the (so-called) rebels held areas. In my eyes the revolution took Syria back, instead of progressing or make life there better for all.

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May 16th, 2016, 4:15 pm

 

8. Akbar Palace said:

Amir,

Backward or forward, no one planned it this way. Instead of rubbing salt into a wound, it would help to sympathize with those caught in the middle. Let us hope Syria will emerge one day free.

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May 16th, 2016, 8:13 pm

 

9. Tara said:

Syria Al Assad for you:

Alawi officers boasting in images near body parts they personally cut in peices . More graphic images were not published

Animals!!

And the comment on this article invoke ” kheder”. Who is kheder now ? some divine Alawi who used to cut people in pieces ?

http://orient-news.net/ar/news_show/112319/0/%D8%B9%D8%B5%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%B2%D9%87%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AF%D9%8A%D9%86-%D9%8A%D8%AA%D9%81%D9%88%D9%82-%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89-%D8%A3%D8%A8%D9%88-%D8%B9%D8%B2%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%A6%D9%8A%D9%84-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%AD%D9%81%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%AA%D9%82%D8%B7%D9%8A%D8%B9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AC%D8%AB%D8%AB

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May 16th, 2016, 8:20 pm

 
 

11. ALAN said:

5.Asghar Palace
If the comment addressed to the president of a superpower on its obligations to the other superpower, it means there is no room for Netanyahu-AP useless cartoons.
http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2016/02/253115.htm

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May 17th, 2016, 1:28 pm

 

12. Ghufran said:

SOHR confirmed that wounded Nusra terrorists are getting treated in Turkey.

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May 17th, 2016, 10:21 pm

 

13. Majedkhaldoun said:

Temporarily,and for two years, splitting Syria into three parts ,with high degree of independence as suggested by Lavrov , under umbrella combined government with limited power, this is the rumor that is circulating secretely
I am not sure US will agree to it, and will be opposed by Turkey

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May 17th, 2016, 11:28 pm

 

14. ALAN said:

In Turkey, on a regular basis are being treated senior militants of the Islamic state, as well as their family members. Turkish security forces take no action for their detention, in the same time Erdogan’s government is following the footsteps of Hitler to achieve racial purity of the Turkish nation by eliminating Kurds in Anatolia, with the licentious silence by the rulers of the civilized world

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May 17th, 2016, 11:52 pm

 

15. Ghufran said:

The Syrian Army and rebels exchanged prisoners in southern Aleppo. 25 SA prisoners were released with 70 bodies of fallen soldiers, rebels received 13 prisoners along with 11 dead fighters. Nusra and Ahrar alsham were not involved.
Russia sees no future for the fight against rebels in areas like Idleb and Aleppo and will pressure the regime to sign a peace deal as long as Nusra, isis and Ahrar alsham are not part of the deal. Russia considers Jaish alislam a terrorist organization but realizes that there is an opportunity to end the fight in Ghouta if rebels there are contained.
I am for anything that stops the war even if that means a temporary separation of territories, however I see no chance or benefit of a final division of Syria. Syrians in most of Syria can and should learn to accept their differences. Assad will have to leave office at some point but not by military force, millions of Syrians still see the army as more acceptable than rebels, those who do not have the option to emigrate to Syriastan and try living under Nusra and its sisters.

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May 18th, 2016, 12:12 am

 

16. Akbar Palace said:

The Top Adviser to the Taco Supreme discusses Wesistance

“Syria is the golden ring of resistance front,” Ali Akbar Velayati, top adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told Iran’s Student News Agency ISNA.

“If Assad and the Syrian people fail in their fight against Takfiri (hardline Sunni Islamist) groups…, their next target will be (Shi’ite-led) Iraq, followed by Iran,” he said.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/irans-irgc-says-many-iranians-volunteered-fight-syria-174317197.html?ref=gs

Where’s Ronald Reagan and GWB when you need them?

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May 18th, 2016, 2:36 pm

 

17. Akbar Palace said:

Opinion piece from Ynet: “Assad must go”

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4804899,00.html

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May 18th, 2016, 10:03 pm

 

18. ghufran said:

So it took Ynet 5 years to “discover” that Assad must go for moral and strategic reasons ? It is sad how Arabs can not still figure out that the war in Syria was an Israeli necessity the same as the invasion of Iraq was.
Leaderships in Arab countries may change after invasions and “revolutions” but any new government will be ruling over a destroyed and divided country. The end result is a collection of failed states with Israel as the only shining star in the darkness. Arabs were fools and their tribalism is stronger than their love for their people and their countries. Just do us a big favor and spare us the garbage that comes from Israeli press telling us who is best for Israel or… us.

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May 19th, 2016, 12:11 am

 

19. ALAN said:

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “will be removed through a political process or he will be removed by force,”
Adel! Move on with the second option if you are of the male sex, and you will note that after we recorded for you in Iraq, Libya, Yemen!

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May 19th, 2016, 12:40 am

 

20. Sami said:

Why is it an issue when terrorists receive medical treatment?

To deny anyone medical treatment for whatever reason goes against the very basic principles of medicine as far back as Ancient Greece.

If Nusra terrorists are getting preferential treatment over civilians then I would share your outrage. There is no evidence to support that argument.

if I was a doctor I would concern myself more with the fact hizballah, Iran and Russia are not treating any Syrians while proclaiming to be helping Syria. Rather than showing outrage whenever Israel or Turkey don’t do a background check on who they’re treating.

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May 19th, 2016, 8:48 am

 

21. Alan said:

The comment can not be hashed!
You, with the world, in which you are living, are silent on the daily crimes being committed against the Kurds in Anatolia with a licentious silence.
https://youtu.be/c0DzYG2wQBo

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May 19th, 2016, 9:18 am

 

22. Alan said:

There is nothing more illogical than the US ME policy, which manages to accuse Saudi Arabia in September 11 attacks,and in the same time demanding it to stop the war in Syria. In fact, Washington has no leverage over Saudi Arabia. The United States is not capable of direct confrontation with Saudi Arabia because of economic considerations, as well as to stop supplying weapons to the Saudi kingdom. In addition, Turkey and Saudi Arabia for the continuation of the conflict in Syria do not need anything. Frankly slurred position of the United States helped prolong the bloodshed in Syria. Saudi Arabia with a vengeance starts to supply and arm the militants. Washington is not able to offer something distinct, helplessly watching the situation in Syria once again goes out of control.

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May 19th, 2016, 10:18 am

 

23. Akbar Palace said:

Why is it an issue when terrorists receive medical treatment?

Sami,

Because when you are obsessed with Israel, space and time warp. IOW, there becomes 2 separate Universes. One set of rules for Israel and another for the rest of the world. Just ask the Iranian Taco Supreme.

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May 19th, 2016, 11:40 am

 

24. Akbar Palace said:

It is sad how Arabs can not still figure out that the war in Syria was an Israeli necessity the same as the invasion of Iraq was….The end result is a collection of failed states with Israel as the only shining star in the darkness.

Yes, Ghufran,

Saddam Hussein and Bashar Assad must have had a direct line to the Israeli PM’s office. A job well done. Who will be next wesistance pwo to call on the PM?

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May 19th, 2016, 11:46 am

 

25. ghufran said:

Who said that terrorists should not receive medical treatments ?
The issue is the feverish attempts by Turkey, KSA and the opposition to rehabilitate a terrorist organization, Nusra, and present it as an acceptable alternative to ISIS. Rebel leaders and their backers merged with Nusra fighters in most of Syria and when the toxic combo gets bombed they complain about “massacres” and “cease fire breaches”, the biggest of which was actually performed by rebels and Nusra under the banner of Jaish alfat’h in Aleppo. Even the FSA, or what is left of it, is taking every opportunity to kill Syrian soldiers during the truce, and their leaders speak about the “useless negotiation with the regime” when they address audience in Arabic media but insist that they want a political solution to end the war when they speak to western press !!

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May 19th, 2016, 11:55 am

 

26. ALAN said:

Mr. President Putin
It has become necessary to arm the Syrian Arab Army with a mobile missile system RS-26 Rubezh, because the surrounding countries only understands the language of deterrence. In the hope that others are reviewing their accounts.

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May 19th, 2016, 1:02 pm

 

27. Sami said:

How can one rehabilitate their image by treating their wounds? One has nothing to do with the other!

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May 19th, 2016, 2:34 pm

 

28. habib said:

More fuel to the fire.

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May 20th, 2016, 11:46 am

 

29. Ghufran said:

Do not get surprised if the ikhwanji and thawrajiyyeh posters defend erdogan, they and erdogan belong to the same species.
Erdogan Scorecard:
Education Ministry: 15,200 teachers fired.
Interior Ministry: 8,777 employees fired
Finance Ministry: 1,500 employees fired
Energy Ministry: 300 employees fired
Erdogan’s Office Staff: 257 people fired
Directorate of Religious Affairs: 492 staffers fired
Generals and Admirals: 85 generals and admirals jailed pending trial
Judicial: 2,745 judges fired
Police officers: 8,000 fired
Coup participants: 9,322 security personnel, judges, prosecutors, religious figures detained

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July 22nd, 2016, 1:09 pm

 

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