The Coastal Shield Brigade: A New Pro-Assad Militia

By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi

CoastalShieldBrigadeEmblem
Emblem of the Coastal Shield Brigade. On top: “Coastal Shield Brigade.” In middle (with portrait of Bashar al-Assad): “Republican Guard. Knights of Assad.” On bottom: “Syrian Arab Army.”

As the Syrian civil war has dragged on with no recent decisive breakthroughs for the Assad regime and the loss of many peripheral territories including all major towns in Idlib and Palmyra, the problem of avoidance of conscription into the regular armed forces has only become exacerbated. Thus, at this point, a strategy of entrenchment and defence of vital areas seems most reasonable to ensure the regime’s survival, having locals recruited instead to focus on defending and retaking territory within their own provinces. For example, this approach is now well in evidence in the predominantly Druze province of Suwayda, which has remained under regime authority but is now threatened on two fronts by the Islamic State to the northeast and the Deraa insurgency to the west, with many Druze refusing to serve in far away fronts to no avail.

The formation of the Coastal Shield Brigade (Liwa Dir’ al-Sahel) for Latakia province is part of the same trend. Indeed, Latakia also finds itself under increasing threat with the Idlib losses, and even some of the Iraqi Shi’a militias deployed in Syria, such as Liwa Dhu al-Fiqar, have played a role in contributing manpower and fighting in Latakia province in recent months.

As is apparent from the Coastal Shield Brigade’s emblem and other media output, it is a local front militia for the elite Republican Guard. The militia first announced the opening of its doors for recruitment in late May this year:

CoastalShieldBrigaderecruitment

“The Republican Guard announces the formation of the Coastal Shield Brigade accepting those who desire recruitment contract for two years, or permanently, and in reserve and compulsory service, as well as for the sorting out of affairs for those who avoided the reserve and compulsory military service call and deserted before 1 January 2015. Salaries will be paid with monthly remunerations reaching up to 40,000 Syrian pounds. To join and inquire, head to the Republican Guard centre opposite the Naval College, School of Arts in al-Qardaha.

Phone numbers: 0988293892/0936713408/890353/825805.”

It should be noted in particular that the potential salary on offer here amounts to more than $200 a month, which is not only much higher than the salaries of regular army conscripts but also of many rebel fighters. For comparison, it is some 2-3 times higher than the salary of an average Northern Storm fighter from the Azaz area. Wishing to extend its recruitment further, the Coastal Shield Brigade put up another notice in June, pushing forward the cut-off date for draft-dodgers to widen the recruitment pool and emphasizing local service:

CoastalShieldBrigaderecruitment2

“The Republican Guard, Coastal Shield Brigade, is accepting those who desire recruitment contract for two years, or permanent, and required for reserve and compulsory service. Commission is accepted for employees in government foundations and offices. Sorting out of affairs for desertion and those who avoided service before 1 March 2015. Ages from 18 to 45 years. Service on the Coast [Latakia]. To submit applications and for any inquiry, head to the Jableh Republican Guard Centre/al-Qardaha Naval College/School of Arts.

Coastal Shield Brigade
Lions of the Republican Guard.”

On 20 June, the Coastal Shield Brigade reiterated the advertisement for recruitment, announcing that the doors for recruitment would be closed soon. But on 28 June, some clarifications were noted: first, by order of the Defence Minister, the issue of ‘sorting out affairs’ would only apply now to those who deserted from the ranks of the Republican Guard, on account of the supposed large number of recruits and applicants to the Coastal Shield Brigade. Second, the recruitment contract of two years would take into account compulsory military service. As far as required documentation goes, one should submit a personal photo and ID photo.

So far, evidence of significant operations for the Coastal Shield Brigade has been somewhat limited, but on 9 July the militia announced its first fallen fighter in one Ibrahim Makana, who died fighting in the Kherbat Sulas area towards the north-east of Latakia province, which continues to remain under insurgent control.

It remains to be seen how effective the Coastal Shield Brigade will be as a fighting force as there has been no major insurgent offensive to push deeper into Latakia province since spring 2014 when a variety of groups spearheaded by jihadists seized the Armenian Christian border town of Kessab (desecrating the churches there despite rebel media attempts to downplay this) and reached the Mediterranean Sea. The Syrian army, bolstered by the elite Desert Falcons and irregular forces in Latakia province such as the Muqawama Suriya, eventually retook all the lost ground, but the process was sluggish and dragged out until June of that year. Further, the Muqawama Suriya’s own effectiveness was put into doubt with the rapid losses of Idlib city and Jisr al-Shughur in the spring of this year, as the group had a notable presence in both places. Meanwhile, the Desert Falcons failed to prevent the loss of Palmyra and other towns in Homs desert to the Islamic State. These developments besides the potential high salary may add to the attractiveness of the Coastal Shield Brigade as an alternative local defence force that at the same time purports to counter the problem of breakdown of regime authority on account of proliferation of irregular armed groups.

Comments (70)


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51. Syrian said:

سمير المطفي
Yesterday at 2:19pm ·
الأسد أو نبيع البلد

Assad or we’ll sell the country

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July 28th, 2015, 6:41 pm

 

52. Majedkhaldoun said:

Simo
You are talking in sectarian term, I agree however that in military term , if we let this go , radicals are the current alternative, but politically, the military radicals will gain nothing, if we get rid of this criminal Assad, and agree to replace him with democratic government, the militant radicals will be weakened
Syrians are not radicals, radicalism is the direct response to tyranny, and Assad crimes, but if you keep talking in sectarian tone, then you are supporting radicalism, and what you will reap is death and destruction, who is to blame for that? It is sectarianists

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July 29th, 2015, 5:05 am

 

53. Majedkhaldoun said:

This Iran deal is a deal of deceiving, one side is deceiving the other, both Iran and U.S. Are deceiving the other side, this agreement is good for ten years only, after that Iran will resume nuclear bomb development mean while Iran will have sanction relief and get over 100 billion dollar,in the near future, so who is deceiving the other
Obama is thinking that in ten years US will claim Iran did not abide with the agreement so US will resume sanction and may use military solution, but by another president,
Iran thinking is Iran now will get hundred of billion of dollars and will have relief of sanction for the next two or three years , meanwhile its economy improves, and military forces become stronger, and in two or three years Iran will claim US did not comply with the agreement terms and will annul the agreement,
So who is deceiving the other more?certainly Iran is more clever than Obama

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July 29th, 2015, 5:58 am

 

54. Akbar Palace said:

Majedkhaldoun,

You’ll have to excuse Sim, he prefers self-elected governments like those in Syria and Iran over democracy ( just for the Middle East region).

I think he’s OK with democracy in Finland, just not for the Middle East.

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July 29th, 2015, 9:13 am

 

55. ALAN said:

48. MAJEDKHALDOUN
تمتلك قوات الجمهورية العربية السورية من القوة ما يكفي لقلب أراضي الجمهورية العثمانية الاردوغانية رأسا على عقب، و انا أقصد ما أقول.
لا بأس من تناول بعض المرطبات!

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July 29th, 2015, 1:17 pm

 

56. ALAN said:

A German journalist asked the German government speakers if the German government has assured knowledge that the Islamic State was responsible for the recent attack that killed 32 in Turkey.

The answer: *crickets*

https://youtu.be/xy4wb8RlQjo

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July 29th, 2015, 4:26 pm

 

57. SimoHurtta said:

54. AKBAR PALACE said:

Majedkhaldoun,

You’ll have to excuse Sim, he prefers self-elected governments like those in Syria and Iran over democracy ( just for the Middle East region).

I think he’s OK with democracy in Finland, just not for the Middle East.

Every Syrian must think what will come after Assad’s regime, that is essential for them – not speaking bullshit about democracy which is a very distant dream. The 99.999 percent likely option of this chaos is that of Somalia’s and Libya’s faith, not a secular or even less secular democracy. In a case where there is no large united organized force/movement as the opposition in a revolution, the result will be what we see now in Libya (soon 4 years and counting) and what has been going on for decades in Somalia after Siad Barre. Sure everybody “here” would like the result to be a stable democracy in Syria and everywhere else in Arab countries. And naturally in Israel a democracy instead of that rule of those racist religious nuts with atom bombs. Europe has serious problems with those millions of refugees coming from Middle East and in many EU countries the situation is nearing the point, that “we” do not want more of them to come from ME’s failed states.

Can fragmented tribal societies with no longer nation state past jump to western style democracy after autocrat rulers, with the army, police, civil administration etc destroyed? It would be nice, but it happens so only in Jewish Holywood fiction and US politicians’ speeches. Somebody has to fill the power vacuum. In Iraq (and pre 2002 Afghanistan) it was USA with miserable success which did it. In Afghanistan it was after Soviets and longer civil war brought the Talebans in power.

It is naive to think that when Assad is kicked out everything stops and ISIS, Al Qaida and those tens of other clans and groups have a meeting and form a peaceful democratic secular government. Come-on. After Assad’s fall the real slaughter begins, like in every other case like this. In Syria’s case the outcome will be if outsiders do not intervene, that the strongest militias take the most of the country using ethnic cleansing etc methods. It is very likely now that outsiders intervene and Turkey has to take most of Syria so that Kurds do not get it, directly themselves or by arranging strong Sunni militias to fill the vacuum.

It will be interesting to see who you Akbar support then when the real slaughters, ethnic cleansing and revenge killing begin after the present regime is kicked out. I don’t hear you whining about the promised democracy in Libya and Somalia (or Palestine) and the ten of thousands killed in those processes. Iraq’s US nation building and “democracy” process caused nearly a million of killed and several millions of refugees plus a destroyed economy. And that Iraq process is far from over.

Speaking about democracy to Syria (or to Israel) or demanding it is easy. Even Akbar can do it, but he can not say how is going to happen in the present reality. In Akbar’s imagination ISIS, Al Qaida etc militias vanish the day Assad is exiled or is killed. And the four weeks after that are elections and the secular new government begins their job. Yes so it must be happening in Akbar’s Zionist imagination. These same Akbars have been negotiating 25 years with Palestinians achieving nothing for Palestinians’ “democracy” and stealing much land and killing many during that time. Creating democracies is easy as we have seen.

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July 29th, 2015, 5:24 pm

 

58. Majedkhaldoun said:

Simo
You are assuming too much, most of what you say most likely will not happen, for example you say Turkey will take over most of Syria, this is extremely exaggerated, Turkey will not be allowed to take any part of Syria, Turkey will withdraw and give the control to moderate Syrians, you say the Syrian regime is autocratic regime , you are too nice to this regime , which is the most ferocious murderous tyrannical regime in the last 200 year, any thing will be better than this murderous sectarian regime who did not hesitate to use chemical weapons against his people, and destroy cities over his Syrian heads killing children women and sick people , killing doctors merely for treating patients,
You say real slaughter will begin , after all the killing Assad committed and you don,t think this is real slaughter? Where do you live , come down to earth, open your eyes, you remind me of the one who said hardly a massacre, be honest and fair please,
You are still confused , we are against ISIS as much as we are against your idol, the criminal Assad, no one knows what conditions Syrians will live under after Assad and his murderous supporters leave, but Syria is not Libya, the history of Syria proved that we are quick to forget and forgive and live togather peacefully, Isis survives due to chaos Assad created, There is good chance ISIS will disappear before the end of this war in Syria or soon after, Turkey today is going to diminish the power of ISIS, Turkey will not go south of Aleppo and Reqqa, by the end of Turkish attack, there will not be ISIS,

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July 29th, 2015, 8:40 pm

 

59. Observer said:

Rumors and more than rumors now note that the law of the jungle pervades the coastal towns starting with Latakia.
A glimpse of the future Alewite state and how the sect will suffer on the hands of the clan. Perhaps then they will understand how a whole population took up arms against this gang.

Cheers

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July 29th, 2015, 11:04 pm

 

60. Observer said:

This is another example of a failed state that was put together in an artificial way.
No comment

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July 29th, 2015, 11:22 pm

 
 

62. Akbar Palace said:

Sim asks:

Can fragmented tribal societies with no longer nation state past jump to western style democracy after autocrat rulers, with the army, police, civil administration etc destroyed?

Yes, easily, with NO outside influences. Arab states are fragile because they are in economic ruin. They have been raped by their self-appointed leaders, who have forced their vision of the state on their own sheeple.

Does Syria and Iraq have roads? Do they have doctors? Do they have schools? Do they have universities? Do they have movie houses? Restaurants? It all gets put together by a strong police force, civil administration, judicial system, business opportunities, etc.

Arabs are SMART people, but they NEED democracy like everyone else on this planet. To deny arabs freedom Sim, is “anti-semitism”, which you know so much about.;)

It would be nice, but it happens so only in Jewish Holywood fiction and US politicians’ speeches. Somebody has to fill the power vacuum. In Iraq (and pre 2002 Afghanistan) it was USA with miserable success which did it. In Afghanistan it was after Soviets and longer civil war brought the Talebans in power.

Sim,

“Jewish Holywood” (sic) is entertainment and nothing more. Jews are creative and so this industry has a high percentage of jews. So what? Basketball has a high percentage of blacks; I love basketball. Golf has a high percentage of whites?

Sim,

It boils down to this: Do you support the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for a humans?

http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/

It is naive to think that when Assad is kicked out everything stops and ISIS, Al Qaida and those tens of other clans and groups have a meeting and form a peaceful democratic secular government. Come-on. After Assad’s fall the real slaughter begins, like in every other case like this.

The real slaughter is happening NOW dude. And two wrongs do not make a right. All these Islamic militant groups are just as bad as the self-appointed leaders. No one said freedom was easy to obtain. It wasn’t easy for blacks in the US. It is something you have to fight for.

Iraqis had a opportunity to obtain democracy. It is still a fragile state. Obama should not have pulled out. Iraqis are still learning how to defend themselves. They’re still learning how to paste together a strong, united defense force. They deserve the opportunity.

In Syria’s case the outcome will be if outsiders do not intervene, that the strongest militias take the most of the country using ethnic cleansing etc methods.

Syrians need to be left alone so Syrians can put together a country of all her people, not just Alawi overlords.

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July 30th, 2015, 7:06 am

 

63. ALAN said:

Human Rights Watch Markets ISIS As Safe Haven, Then Laments About It
http://www.moonofalabama.org/

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July 30th, 2015, 10:57 am

 

64. ALAN said:

Human Rights Watch Markets ISIS As Safe Haven, Then Laments About It
http://www.moonofalabama.org/

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July 30th, 2015, 10:57 am

 

65. SANDRO LOEWE said:

Assad´s bastards and the followers of the Mehdi (HA) are still fighting to get Zabadani. After more than 2 weeks of intense fight they could not get a small village like Zabadani? What is this fxxxxing militia doing? Are they supposed to protect the whole country?

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July 30th, 2015, 11:27 am

 

66. habib said:

Erdogan’s megalomania and NATO’s complicity is just about to push the Kurds over to the government side.

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July 30th, 2015, 5:36 pm

 

67. Ghufran said:

Not sure if the USA has a clear strategy when it comes to Turkey, Syria and the Kurds.
It seems like Obama is selling the Kurds to win Turkey and that can not be good for
the anti Assad forces, tension is rising between rebels and the Kurds and Turkey will definitely prefer nusra and Isis over the Kurds, I hope you guys did not believe the myth that the ottomans will fight nusra and Isis and allow Kurds to prevail. Erdogan’s hands will again be stained with blood, Kurdish blood this time.

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July 30th, 2015, 11:03 pm

 

68. Ghufran said:

I do not know if I believe the report about a visit by Ali Mamlouk to KSA
to meet with KSA effective leader prince
Muhammad Ibn Salman. Russia was the mediator accordingl to the report published in Lebanese press.
Sslman’s points:
You allied yourself with ksa’s main regional threat, Iran, and its proxy in Lebanon, hizbullah and you chose not to listen to the demands of Syrian people.

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July 30th, 2015, 11:18 pm

 

69. ALAN said:

We covenant United States policy towards us always treacherous.
Obama: Why you approved the Turkish air Strikes Against the Kurds? do you want to terror us more and more?
I call on all Kurds in all the capitals of the world: DONT tolerate Turkish action against Kurds. Break the silence and act against dirty Obama-Erdogan alliance.

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July 31st, 2015, 3:43 am

 

70. الأسد يخسر وحدة البلاد | التجمع الوطني الحر said:

[…] خارج مناطقها. على سبيل المثال، لم يلقَ صعود “ألوية الدروع” دفاعاً عن اللاذقية وحمص، مقاومةً تُذكَر من […]

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August 9th, 2015, 3:21 am

 

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