The Syrian National Resistance: Liwa Khaybar

By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi

Emblem of Liwa Khaybar, featuring the Syrian flag used by the regime and a scorpion (hence the inscription “al-‘Aqrab”- “The Scorpion”- referring to the leader of the group).

The moniker of “resistance” (muqawama) is common to pro-Assad militias (e.g. The Syrian Resistance and The National Ideological Resistance in Syria): hardly surprising given Syria’s membership of the “resistance” bloc led by Iran. The militia that is the subject of this profile fits into this trend: al-Muqawama al-Wataniya al-Souriya: Liwa Khaybar (“The Syrian National Resistance: Khaybar Brigade”). Unlike the other militias mentioned above though, there is very little information available publicly about this group.

However, I was able to get in touch with the leader of Liwa Khaybar, who calls himself Abu Ja’afar (aka The Scorpion/The Scorpion of Homs). He describes his militia as an auxiliary force for the Syrian army that he founded three years ago (i.e. late 2012-early 2013), but it also so happens that Abu Ja’afar claims to be one of the founders of the National Defence Forces (NDF) branch in Homs. Therefore, Liwa Khaybar and the NDF in Homs emerged at roughly the same time.

Indeed, overlap between some NDF branches and militias is also apparent in the case of Quwat al-Ridha (Syrian Hezbollah) and the Homs NDF, as well as the Damascus NDF and Liwa al-Sayyida Ruqayya, which is affiliated with Iraqi Shi’a militia Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada’. That said, it should be made clear that the issue of overlap is different from formal affiliation: that is, these militias are not official divisions of the NDF, unlike (say) Katibat al-Jabal that is part of the Latakia NDF. Rather, particular leaders and individuals may have membership in multiple groups at once.

Similar to Quwat al-Ridha, Abu Ja’afar says that most of the members of his group come from Homs, but he denies having links with Quwat al-Ridha, though he says that “perhaps there is some logistical support only.” In terms of numbers and operations, one should be careful not to exaggerate the importance of this force. While Abu Ja’afar claims thousands of recruits for Liwa Khaybar and operations throughout Syria, he says that until now the group has had some 32 “martyrs” (fallen fighters), including his four brothers.

In middle: Abu Ja’afar. Presumably with members of Liwa Khaybar.

Abu Ja’afar: leader of Liwa Khaybar.

Note the car in the background featuring Liwa Khaybar’s emblem, with portraits of Assad and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.

From recent publicly available information, on 10 October 2015, as Russian airstrikes were underway and regime offensives were launched on multiple fronts throughout northern Syria, the group claimed to be operating in the western Hama countryside (the Sahl al-Ghab area, with the aim of pushing into Idlib province), declaring that “Khirbat al-Naqus and al-Mansura have been liberated, and now the advance is going towards Tel Wasit and after that towards Jisr al-Shughur.” This followed on from some notable posts in the previous month: on 13 September 2015, Liwa Khaybar denied that its leader Abu Ja’afar had been killed, and on 21 September 2015, Abu Ja’afar wrote that “history will record epic battles of heroism that you will see in the next few days in the north of Syria, God willing.” The latter of course refers to the preparations that were being made for offensives to be launched with Russian air support.

Overall, Liwa Khaybar is a minor player in the Syrian conflict but serves as yet another example of militiafication on the Assad regime side.

Comments (7)


Ghufran said:

Comic relief from KSA
أعلنت السعودية قطع العلاقات الدبلوماسية مع ايوأمهلتها 48 ساعة لسحب بعثتها الدبلوماسية.
وأعلن وزير الخارجية السعودي عادل الجبير في مؤتمر صحافي قطع العلاقات وطرد دبلوماسييها، وأن السعودية ترفض “التعامل مع دولة تدعم الارهاب وتقوم بنشر الفوضى والطائفية”.
KSA decides to sever its diplomatic relations with Iran accusing the latter of supporting terrorism and spreading sectarianism.

January 3rd, 2016, 3:41 pm


elian said:

ok here we go, the KSA kicks the Iranian diplomatic mission and Iran next responds with firing missiles at KSA. Let’s see this Scenario play on the battleground which is going to be KSA land.
Iraq, Syria with Iran and GCC and KSA in another trench.
I would vote for Iran to destroy KSA and what is left will be the mission of Trump to bomb.
This will play well in the M.E because without cutting the head of all the snakes of KSA and GCC the middle east will never have a rest.
oh shoot I forgot Russia probably will be adding few cruise missiles from the back sea in support of Iran.
the Muslim world fighting each other, no need for American or any other troops on the ground in Syria or Iraq.
the one problem that Oil money will run out fast given the Dollar is very strong at the current time and it takes lots of money to replenish used ammunition.
any objector from the west of this site is welcome to go back to KSA and join the fight there not in the west.
btw Canada just announced that the number of Syrian they are taking in 2016 went up to 50K.
therefore, Christian and Kurds from the middle east are moving to KSA.

January 3rd, 2016, 7:34 pm


Tara said:

“Iranian protesters stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran early on Sunday and Shi’ite Muslim Iran’s top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, predicted “divine vengeance” for the execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, an outspoken opponent of the kingdom’s ruling Al Saudi family.”

Divine vengeance اللي يدق رقبتة ورقبة حسونة

I am so impressed with how this Ali guy invokes divinity. If divinity wants to interfere, it would take him first

January 3rd, 2016, 8:07 pm


Sami said:

“Overall, Liwa Khaybar is a minor player in the Syrian conflict but serves as yet another example of militiafication on the Assad regime side.”

So, what role do these thugs play? And whose orders do they follow, Damascus or Tehran?

The myth of the “Syrian” army is yet again being undermined by the “muqawama”…

This post is extremely short on details and actual substance. Thankfully, no inundation with pictures of “martyrs”.

Having to spell out the word scorpion beside a picture of a scorpion is a perfect example of failing in your symbolism. It just shows the intellectual capacity of Assadists and their supporters.

January 3rd, 2016, 9:04 pm


Ghufran said:

KSA is running from its problems, and there are many, and the coming weeks or months will prove that the actions of Salman and his son are a sign of weakness not strength. The ruling mafia in KSA is hoping to win support from sunni states and religious militants by pretending to be the guardian of sunnism, but the immediate results will be more troubles for the kingdom and more spending on weapons which now includes $ 10 billion gift to Turkey at a time when ksa budget has a deficit close to $ 200 billion. I believe that Iran and ksa are destabilizing forces in the region but ksa is a bigger threat to regional and international peace because it harbors millions of pro Qaida religious militants who will not hesitate to fund terrorism around the globe. Moderates in Iran and less hawkish elements in ksa have the back seat now and that means the efforts to reach a compromise are unlikely to succeed in the near term and the proxy wars in Syria and Yemen may actually get worse with the possibility of violence in ksa and Bahrain.

January 3rd, 2016, 9:36 pm


Ziad Abu Fadel said:

I am perplexed by the name of “Khaybar” which is the name of the hated Jewish tribe of Arabia. Failure to mention this is a serious lacuna in the narrative. I can only assume that the writer is a graduate student at the University of Oklahoma with someone we know as his adviser.

January 4th, 2016, 10:00 am


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