Kata’ib Humat al-Diyar: A Prominent Loyalist Militia in Suwayda’

By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi

Emblem of Kata’ib Humat al-Diyar, featuring Syria as the main part of the emblem and the group’s name beneath it.

The predominantly Druze province of Suwayda’ in southern Syria has a variety of militia factions, some of which lean more third-way and reformist from within (most notably the Rijal al-Karama movement) and others of a more Assad regime loyalist orientation. Kata’ib Humat al-Diyar (“Guardians of the Abode Battalions,” whose name references the Syrian national anthem Humat al-Diyar) represents one of the latter factions. It is led by Nazih Jerbo’ (Abu Hussein), who is a relative of Sheikh Yusuf Jerbo’, one of the three Mashayakh al-‘Aql representing the highest religious authorities among the Druze in Syria. On account of the Mashayakh al-‘Aql’s links with the regime, Sheikh Yusuf Jerbo’, who succeeded Nazih’s father Hussein on the latter’s death in December 2012, is firmly on the regime’s side and indeed has played an important role in the building of Dir’ al-Watan, a pro-regime formation in Suwayda’ province that was set up more recently than Kata’ib Humat al-Diyar. According to Samir al-Shabali, who led a Kata’ib Humat al-Diyar contingent in the Suwayda’ village of Ariqa but is now in the Kata’ib al-Ba’ath (“Ba’ath Brigades”), Kata’ib Humat al-Diyar’s origins date much further back to 2012.

Kata’ib Humat al-Diyar Ariqa contingent placard, featuring Bashar al-Assad’s portrait. Photo from June 2014.

Photo featuring members of Kata’ib Humat al-Diyar with the group’s logo on their jackets. The post says: “Kata’ib Humat al-Diyar: groups of lions of Suwayda’ spread in all regions of the province to protect it from any emergency to which Suwayda’ might be exposed during the past two days.” Indeed, according to the media director for Rijal al-Karama, Kata’ib Humat al-Diyar has been around for a long time and has “many people” in its ranks, though he adds that the National Defence Forces in Suwayda’ province is bigger than Kata’ib Humat al-Diyar. One member of Kata’ib Humat al-Diyar claimed that the formation has 2000 fighters.

Considering Nazih Jerbo’s relation with Sheikh Yusuf Jerbo’, it is unsurprising that Kata’ib Humat al-Diyar also reflects a regime loyalist position. This stance is made very clear in the group’s social media output. For example, in August 2015, Kata’ib Humat al-Diyar advertised a visit to its base from the Arab Unity Party “to affirm shared positions in protecting the mountain [Jabal al-Arab/Druze: Suwayda’].” For context, note that the Arab Unity Party (Hizb al-Tawhid al-Arabi) is a Lebanese party primarily supported by Druze opposed to Walid Jumblatt, who has come out against Bashar al-Assad during the Syrian civil war. The leader of the Arab Unity Party- Wiam Wahhab- has played a notable role over the past few years in organizing efforts in Suwayda’ province in defence of the regime. Indeed, the group even has a militia fighting in Syria- under the monikers of Katibat Ammar bin Yasir and the “Arab Tawhidi Resistance”- that has claimed ‘martyrs’ in fighting in northern Suwayda’ in summer 2014 (though note the particular individuals named were also presented as ‘martyrs’ of the Popular Committees) and more recently in the Druze area of Hadr in Quneitra province in November 2016. The reference to Ammar bin Yasir- one of the companions of the Prophet- is a reflection of Ammar bin Yasir’s importance in the Druze faith, while Tawhidi can refer to the “Unity” part of Wiam Wahhab’s party, as well as the fact that Druze call themselves Muwahhideen (“monotheists”: like Tawhid, based on the same derivative form of Arabic root w-h-d). The “Resistance” aspect clearly references the notion of the regional “resistance” axis supporting the regime.

Photo from the post concerning the visit of the Arab Unity Party to Kata’ib Humat al-Diyar’s base. Note the portrait of Bashar al-Assad in the background.

Besides the meeting with the Arab Unity Party itself, Kata’ib Humat al-Diyar has participated in events convened by other factions supporting the regime in Suwayda’, such as the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, which has an important base of support in Suwayda’ province and opened a new base in Ariqa in July 2015, an event that was also attended by the National Defence Forces, Ba’ath Brigades and a local faction known as the Ammar bin Yasir group, an obvious reference in this case to the shrine in Ariqa for Ammar bin Yasir. According to Samir al-Shabali, this Ammar bin Yasir group is independent and relies on arming from local people. Therefore it should not be confused with the Arab Unity Party’s Katibat Ammar bin Yasir that is fighting in Syria.

Kata’ib Humat al-Diyar has engaged in other forms of local outreach such as through  hosting local sheikhs for meetings, who have visited both the group’s base and the house of Nazih Jerbo’. These meetings, advertised in June and August 2015 respectively, partly reflected the same and familiar rhetorical stances, such as standing united against threats from “terrorism” and/or the “enemies of the homeland,” while warning against fitna (“strife”). The concept of fitna is a common talking point within discourse in Suwayda’ province, referring most notably to the dangers posed by internal partisan rivalries that can distract from threats that the province is facing from outside forces such as the rebels to the west in Deraa province and the Islamic State to the northeast. This is particularly relevant in the case of the competition for influence between Rijal al-Karama and the loyalist factions in Suwayda’ province.

Kata’ib Humat al-Diyar’s activities on the ground, as promoted by the militia itself, primarily concern maintaining internal security in Suwayda’ province including inside Suwayda’ city alongside popular committee militias that are also aligned with the regime. The main military engagement that appears to have been claimed by the militia outside Suwayda’ province thus far came amid the mobilization of Syrian Druze to defend the village of Hadr  after the rebels launched a new offensive in the area in September 2016.

Though the maintenance of internal security has included battles within Suwayda’ province such as one in May 2015 that was fought in the Haqaf area in eastern Suwayda’ province in coordination with multiple factions (including Rijal al-Karama) against the Islamic State, Kata’ib Humat al-Diyar mainly seems to focus on confiscating smuggled goods, such as medicines, drugs and oil. Portraying itself as a group upholding the state and the nation, Kata’ib Humat al-Diyar says that the medicines and oil in particular are bound for areas like Deraa under rebel control, and thus the smugglers are bartering with people’s lives and the nation’s existence for the sake of profiteering. In the case of smuggled medicines, in May 2015 the group claimed that its leader directed sending confiscated medicines to the health directorate in Suwayda’ by the agreement of Atef al-Nadaf, the provincial governor at the time. These medicines were then to be distributed to the various health centres in the province in order to help the children and sick.

However, like many militias in the Syrian civil war, Kata’ib Humat al-Diyar faces accusations of criminal behaviour and acting outside the rule of law. For example, the anti-regime leaning Arab Druze Identity Movement, also known as The Identity Movement in Jabal al-Arab, wrote in May 2016 that one of the members of Kata’ib Humat al-Diyar killed a person from the village of al-Dur following a driving incident, but has been able to find safe refuge thanks to his affiliation with the militia. This event, the group adds, follows on from one last year in which the militia killed someone from the Murshid family. The latter incident involved the killing of a university student called Murad Sanad Murshid as armed men who had set up a checkpoint opened fire on his car. The exact identity of the perpetrators appears to be disputed. One account from the time of the incident in July 2015 says that the perpetrators were from the Kata’ib al-Ba’ath, though adds that the deceased’s family initially thought Nazih Jerbo’s men were responsible and accordingly attacked his home. It was partly in this context that the meeting with local sheikhs advertised in August 2015 by Kata’ib Humat al-Diyar came about, whereby sheikhs from the deceased person’s village of Haran came to the house of Nazih Jerbo’. In a similar vein, the meeting advertised by the militia in June 2015 partly referred to another controversy in which Kata’ib Humat al-Diyar was accused of arresting, torturing and killing a few people from the Bedouin minority on the grounds of bombarding Suwayda’ city. Again, as with the July 2015 incident, the identity of the perpetrators is disputed, with some accounts holding that it was actually al-Amn al-Askari (The Military Security: i.e. Military Intelligence) that carried out these acts and then accused Kata’ib Humat al-Diyar, which denied any wrongdoing.

Even so, Kata’ib Humat al-Diyar is accused of being one of the leading groups relied on by the regional al-Amn al-Askari head Wafiq Nasir for kidnapping operations in Suwayda’ province, a lucrative business said to be worth more than 850,000,000 Syrian pounds in the province in terms of ransoms paid. Also, despite the anti-smuggling image of the group, allegations also exist of certain members’ involvement in profiteering through setting up checkpoints to allow smugglers to pass (e.g. here) or similar involvement in smuggling operations deemed detrimental to the security of the province (cf. here).

In any case, this overview of Kata’ib Humat al-Diyar illustrates that the influence and size of the loyalist factions in Suwayda’ province should not be underestimated, despite the growth of Rijal al-Karama. Indeed, third-way leaning groups cannot afford full-blown open confrontation with the loyalist groups as it would simply prove too costly, and ultimately the priority must be to defend Suwayda’ province from external attack. As the media director for Rijal al-Karama put it, “In the event of an external attack on the Jabal, all factions unite.”

Comments (23)

Eugene said:

As this war drags on, the country torn apart by the proxies of outside influences, the question arises: “how will the country be able to heal itself without further bloodshed when the war ends?” Will the country survive, or will it be destroyed-what hasn’t been already-to satisfy those outside influences?

November 26th, 2016, 7:14 am



TiK ToK TiK ToK TiK ToK TiK ToK!!

November 28th, 2016, 9:43 am


Passerby said:

I rather doubt it’s about to drag out much longer, not in it’s current form. Even without the US changing sides, Nusra and their fellow travelers are losing already.

And ISIS was never a problem to Assad. He’d be happy to ditch that worthless Sunni part. That’s the world’s problem. And the Kurds are Turkey’s problem.

Lots of ways for Russia and the US to cut a deal that benefits both. And both are eager to do it. Erdogan can be in it or out of it. Gulf States too.

Game’s up.

November 28th, 2016, 2:31 pm


Syrialover said:


If the Assad regime remains “in control” of a repatched post-war Syria it will be running it as the nastiest, most violent and repressive dictatorship in history.

It will also be the poorest, with the highest unemployment, homelessness and a lack of education and health infrastructure on a level with the world’s most deprived and undeveloped countries.

There will be no significant aid or investment for redevelopment, and absence of security and infrastructure will mean even the economic lifeline of tourism will remain dust and feathers, impossible to revive.

But the deepest and most crippling damage will be in the psychology of Syrians who live in this failed and illegitimate state, among the physical ruins and misery they know was inflicted by the regime as “collective punishment” against its citizens in its rampage to stay in power.

There will be no mechanisms for building trust, conflict resolution or reconciliation. Searing hatred and resentment will be felt by those who suffered and lost everything against those who indiscriminately and arrogantly stole, killed, terrorized and destroyed private property and public infrastructure under the direction and protection of the Assad regime.

They will also live with the stench of the Iranian and Russian presence, knowing those outsiders assisted in the mass destruction of their country at the invitation of Assad in return for power in Syria.

Above all, they will never forget that they are living with the predator, not the rescuer.

November 28th, 2016, 3:29 pm


Syrialover said:


In answer to your question about “healing without bloodshed” (i.e. healing without Assad) you could read interviews with Yassin al haj Saleh.

He demonstrates that despite what has happened to them personally, Syrians are capable of enlightened, positive and constructive thinking about the future and issues facing their society.



November 28th, 2016, 3:45 pm


Syrialover said:


You are a model of those who comment like a smartass about Syria as if it was a computer war game.

Can we assume from your comments that you never saw the country or met any Syrians.

Or that you don’t bother to read beyond recent random headlines on the subject.

If you did, you might look back and be embarrassed by the way you write about it.

November 28th, 2016, 3:56 pm


Passerby said:

Hi Syrialover,

Ok, that’s what you think of me. How about the US changing sides and Assad winning? You think that’s false?

Everyone here knows the US is supporting Nusra, at least indirectly. You think Donald Trump will continue doing that? Have you read what he’s said about it? You think Russia and the US working together to end it won’t make a difference with Russia/Assad already winning? Where did I go wrong?

November 28th, 2016, 11:22 pm


Syrialover said:


More computer war game talk.

You show how deeply you are into your own world of computer games/random scanning of headlines by your swaggering comments on what Trump will and won’t do.

This site is almost empty of worthwhile comment these days. What a tragedy, what a collapse from its past life as a forum for quality discussion of issues relating to Syria.

Go back a couple of years and read the archives and see what the standards were.

November 29th, 2016, 1:26 pm


Passerby said:

Well, you know, Syrialover, I’d be thrilled to totally ignore Syria. If they insist on a fight to the death, so be it. I feel sorry for the innocent, but if that’s what they want…

Problem is, it won’t stay in Syria, it’s a cancer. Scott Adams has predicted the last year of US politics precisely a year in advance. A world class expert on persuasion. An expert on talking people into things. You should read what he thinks is in store for Syria, he says Nusra/ISIS/Etc. can’t be persuaded, they have to be exterminated…

The Wall Around ISIS

Posted September 28th, 2016 @ 10:14am in #ISIS Trump Wall

Turkey is almost finished building its wall to keep out Syrian refugees. That seals off the ISIS Caliphate’s Northern border. See this map to refresh your memory on the geography.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is building a “bad-ass” wall along its entire border with Iraq. Jordan has plans for its own wall, for the same reason. And we can assume that Israel and Iran will be improving their border control too, if any improvement is needed.

The United States and Russia can – if they want – seal off the coast of Syria with warships and drones and digital surveillance. Better yet, let Russia and its Syrian client (now much smaller than it was) build its own wall to keep ISIS from having ocean access.

After all of the walls are built to “keep out refugees” you will – by no coincidence whatsoever – also have a wall that “keeps in ISIS.” That’s the real story here.

The future of the ISIS Caliphate has been clear (to me) since at least 2003 when I wrote my sequel to God’s Debris, titled The Religion War. In the book, I predicted the rise of a Caliphate in that general area, endless “small” terrorist attacks in the United States, and the eventual walling-in of the Caliphate to stop the “idea” of ISIS from spreading.

Here’s how you kill an idea:

Step one: Quarantine the idea. (Build a wall around it.)

Step two: Remove all digital communications from the area.

Step three: Remove any foreign press in the zone so there are no witnesses to war crimes.

Step four: Depopulate the Caliphate over time by removing trusted women and children and killing everyone else. I don’t recommend any of this, by the way. I’m only predicting it will happen, as I have since 2003. If you have been watching my Trump-related predictions, you might recognize that I used the same filter – persuasion – to predict the rise of the caliphate and the eventual walling-off.

If you take a purely military approach to ISIS, you never kill the idea that is at its core. You might even strengthen it. Persuasion is the only weapon that can make a difference. And to persuade, first you must control the conversation. You can only do that by physically and digitally quarantining the entire Caliphate. Otherwise there will always be too much idea-leakage.

We also need persuasion tools to deter crazy loners from self-radicalizing. But that’s a separate persuasion process. The most important strategy involves blocking all communication into and out of the ISIS Caliphate. Once you brand ISIS as a loser – by totally controlling the stories coming from that zone – you can mop up the self-radicalizers over time.

That’s how you kill an idea virus as strong as ISIS. There really isn’t any other option. I believe most trained persuaders would agree.

Another key part of my prediction is that the Caliphate will start to weaponize hobby-sized drones for attacks all over the world. When that nightmare starts – and you know it will – expect to never hear another press report from the Caliphate, because that’s when the depopulating will begin.


November 29th, 2016, 4:31 pm


Syrialover said:


You are quoting a fierce Trump loyalist and promoter on this subject?

Anybody who is well informed on ISIS groans when they see rehashed, randomized, superficial commentary like that. Especially when it takes such a know-it-all tone, asserting all kinds of unsubstantiated theories.

How about something that actually has something to do with Syrians? You know, those people.

How about quoting Syrians who are respected authorities on the subject of ISIS. Hassan Hassan wouldn’t be a bad start.

Hassan Hassan’s articles appear in many prestigious newspapers and journals, and he’s written a critically acclaimed bestselling book on ISIS.

November 29th, 2016, 6:03 pm


Syrialover said:

So General ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis has been named as the new US Secretary of Defense.

Putin and the Mullahs now have a strong, determined and intelligent enemy inside the Trump team.

Mattis will understand more about the situation in Syria than anyone else in the room, and have clear ideas on what it needs – starting with the fall of Assad as a blow to Iran (as he has stated).

He is also a very popular person on both sides of politics and very outspoken. Obama sacked him in 2013 for saying he liked to kill Taliban fighters.

December 2nd, 2016, 3:28 pm


Ghufran said:

When will thawrajiyyeh understand that they can only change the regime if they win popular support ? For almost 6 years the rebels and their supporters put most of their eggs in foreign and islamist baskets and what they got was a pile of broken eggs.

December 2nd, 2016, 7:31 pm


Ghufran said:

When will thawrajiyyeh understand that they can only change the regime if they win popular support ? For almost 6 years the rebels and their supporters put most of their eggs in foreign and islamist baskets and what they got was a pile of broken eggs !!

December 2nd, 2016, 7:32 pm


Passerby said:

I donno’ Syrialover, I’m just not interested in me. Old hat.

You think it doesn’t matter to Syria if the US teams with Russia to get rid of Nusra and ISIS? Looks like we might not have to wait for Trump to find out…

Lavrov: Kerry finally presented proposals on Aleppo in line with Russia’s stance

At a meeting in Rome, US Secretary of State John Kerry made suggestions on Aleppo in line with those of Russian experts, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

Russia is ready to immediately send military officials and diplomats to Geneva to work out a joint plan of action for Aleppo in line with US proposals, Lavrov said, as quoted by Russian news agencies.

“Moscow is ready to immediately send our military experts and diplomats to Geneva to work out joint actions with our US colleagues in line with the [new] American proposals, which would ensure the withdrawal of all militants without exception from eastern Aleppo, and would provide unimpeded humanitarian supplies to the city’s residents and ensure the establishment of normal life in eastern Aleppo,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Saturday.

Until Friday, the United States had been doing its best to try to “push provisions that would take the heat off Al-Nusra, which directs the militants in the unliberated parts of eastern Aleppo,” Lavrov noted, while adding, “however, yesterday at our meeting in Rome, John Kerry passed on to us proposals from Washington that are in line with the suggestions from Russia’s experts.”

“It must not be a meeting for the sake of a meeting,” Lavrov added. “It is necessary to agree on a detailed timeline of steps.”

Moscow hopes to resolve the situation in Aleppo by the end of the year…


Turkey and the Gulf States funded the most mad dog radicals in the hope that their viciousness would get rid of Assad. And they didn’t care if they killed off any moderates. That was the mistake. Now there’s no alternative to Assad.

December 3rd, 2016, 12:34 pm


Mina said:

This idiot deserves to join the archive here
And I am still waiting for the official explanation as to why the Gulf states with all their wealth are not able/have not been able to welcome refugees for Syria (apart from a bunch of millionaire who had the proper local connections to get the visas and some experts -mainly doctors- who accepted to work there because they needed to survive).
Did the Gulf authorities give a reason for their lack of support? Or they wanted to sort them out first? Or is it just assumed hypocrisy and lack of faith?

December 3rd, 2016, 5:45 pm


Passerby said:

It’s the next act in the play. Not making this stuff up…Apologies for the fake news, propaganda rag, but it demonstrates what they are thinking.

Fearing abandonment by Trump, CIA-backed rebels in Syria mull alternatives


Everyone is eager to cut a deal where any rebels that aren’t absolutely foaming at the mouth are pardoned and can live in peace somehow.

December 3rd, 2016, 9:03 pm


Mina said:

Better than Santa Klaus! The Saudi have ublished a report stating that they have already received millions of Syrian and Yemeni refugees. But you know what? They are entirely free of circulation and work and the kids have free school access and therefore are not counted as ‘refugees’. If not counted, you see, it means not counted. Or how to produce unverifiable reports, a Saudi art. Virtual is what they know best. Keep on watching Indian soaps! It will give you many more subtle ideas like this one. Merry X-Mas.
الرياض تكشف عن استقبالها 3 مليون سوري ويمني ولم تتعامل معهم كلاجئين

December 4th, 2016, 11:06 am


Mina said:

I remember Ar’ur was the object of some post here but why not al Muhaysini?

He and his masters are now jumping off the Titanic

December 4th, 2016, 12:17 pm


Ghufran said:

A leaked audio from Michael kilo on ksa is on the net.
We said that in 2012
يا امة ضحكت من جهلها الامم

December 4th, 2016, 9:39 pm


Syrialover said:

This is Assad’s Syria. Another image for the history books.

After ordinary civilians in eastern Aleppo have been killed and scattered by Russian bombing, Assad’s thugs arrive to loot their homes.


December 5th, 2016, 5:40 am


Syrialover said:

It’s wonderful to see MINA (#14 & 16) so furious and indignant about how much more the tiny Gulf states and Saudis should be taking in Syrian refugees. (She clearly hasn’t read much on the subject in the past couple of years, which has exhaustively explained the limitations to that idea.)

Question: Why not rage about Iran’s inhospitality, too – which is much bigger and far better set up to absorb them? Or Egypt’s sudden nastiness in kicking them out?

Bigger, BIGGEST Question: Why no outrage at all, not even the tiniest bit of annoyance, at those inside Syria who forced millions of Syrians to become homeless, destitute and terrified and run for their lives?

(p.s. When the usual Assadist distraction team try to blame ISIS, note that around 80% of Syrian refugees surveyed in Europe say they are fleeing Assad).

December 5th, 2016, 6:08 am


Syrialover said:

This is good. Exposing disgraced ex-journalist Robert Fisk.

Article: ‘Robert Fisk’s crimes against journalism’

Bullets and bombs it seems aren’t the only things doctors in Syria have to fear; they also have to endure the poisoned pens of regime friendly journalists


It’s very sad. Fisk once commanded respect on ME issues. He should have retired years ago in his early 60’s before his reputation started to decay, destroyed by his dumb, sinister propaganda efforts for Assad.

December 5th, 2016, 6:55 am


Mina said:

You don’t know that Egypt has many more Syrian refugees (+ Sudanese + Yemeni etc) than your lovely Gulf states? And you know the difference between the Gulf economies and that of Egypt and its 90 millions inhabitants? And you know the number of Afghan refugees in Iran? Can you explain me why would Syrian sunnis want to go to Iran, and why the ultra Sunni Gulf who have cable TV sheikhs discussing Syria daily did not make a huge PR operation with thousands of planes getting thousands of refugees in?

December 5th, 2016, 12:48 pm


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