Readers may be familiar with the previous post on this site about Liwa al-Sayyida Ruqayya (Sayyida Ruqayya Brigade, named for the Sayyida Ruqayya shrine in Damascus), also known as the Ja'afari Force. A militia recruiting primarily from the Shi'a in

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Current emblem of Liwa al-Sayyida Ruqayya. Top: "If God supports you, no one can overcome you" [Qur'an 3:160]. Centre: "The Ja'afari Force: Liwa al-Sayyida Ruqayya." Bottom: "The Islamic Resistance in Syria."

Readers may be familiar with the previous post on this site about Liwa al-Sayyida Ruqayya (Sayyida Ruqayya Brigade, named for the Sayyida Ruqayya shrine in Damascus), also known as the Ja'afari Force. A militia recruiting primarily from the Shi'a in Damascus and identifying ideologically with Iran, Liwa al-Sayyida Ruqayya's evolution over time can be principally traced through the presentation of its claimed "martyrs." A large number of cases can notably be traced to the National Defence Forces (NDF) in Damascus. Other labels emerged such as "Liwa Ansar al-Hussein" (Supporters of Hussein Brigade), but over the course of 2014-2015, Liwa al-Sayyida Ruqayya came to present itself as an affiliate of the Iraqi Shi'i militia Kata'ib Sayyid al-Shuhada', with the latter's emblem, flag, and insignia featured in social media output.

However, Liwa al-Sayyida Ruqayya now presents itself as an independent group, according to a media representative who corresponded with me. The reason for the shift away from the affiliation with Kata'ib Sayyid al-Shuhada' was not given, but one plausible explanation for this development is that Liwa al-Sayyida Ruqayya may have attached itself to Kata'ib Sayyid al-Shuhada' for a temporary time in order to receive weapons and training. In a somewhat similar vein, Liwa al-Baqir of the Local Defence Forces in Aleppo reportedly received weapons and training in the beginning from Harakat al-Nujaba' – another Iraqi Shi'i militia – before separating off from it. It may also be that this process of separating off is intended to give an ever more "Syrian" feel to the building of "Islamic Resistance" formations in Syria. In any case, the break-off from Kata'ib Sayyid al-Shuhada' is clear in Liwa al-Sayyida Ruqayya's latest social media manifestations, as the Iraqi group's insignia and logo are absent now, while the Syrian image is reinforced by the inclusion of the Syrian flag in the current emblem.

In total, the militia representative put the number of 'martyrs' at 25. Liwa al-Sayyida Ruqayya has recently been providing more detailed profiles of many of its claimed "martyrs," which I have translated and featured below. They provide deeper insight into the engagements and origins of the group's fighters, corroborating that most of the group's personnel are Damascene Shi'a. Unsurprisingly, the recurrence of certain names points to much recruitment based around families (cf. multiple people with the family name Khaloof are involved in another Syrian 'Islamic Resistance' militia known as al-Ghalibun). I have also provided additional notes on many of these 'martyrs' where applicable.


Name: Ismail Muhammad Ali al-Sous (Abu Ali)

Born in: Damascus
Year of birth: 1967
Place of death: Harasta al-Qantara, East Ghouta
Date of death: 20 May 2016

Part of the recent regime offensive on East Ghouta taking advantage of the rebel-infighting.

Name: Hassan Ahmad Ken'an (Nibras)

Born in: Damascus
Year of birth: 1992
Place of death: Deraa area
Date: 27 July 2015

The Kata'ib Sayyid al-Shuhada' association could be observed at his funeral.


MuhammadAliZaynJaafariForceMartyr
Name: Muhammad Ali al-Zayn Abu Ali (Habib)
Born in: Damascus
Year of birth: 1956
Place of death: Deraa area, Sheikh Maskeen
Date of death: 26 November 2014
Body returned: 25 July 2015

This claimed 'martyr' is particularly interesting because he was actually alsopresented as a 'martyr' by Hezbollah. In addition, reports from the time of his death show he had an NDF ID card. In terms of broader context, it should be pointed out that Kata'ib Sayyid al-Shuhada' was heavily involved in the Deraa front over the course of winter 2014-2015 (e.g. see here).


AdnanHassanMatouq
Name: Adnan Hassan Ma'touq (Zayn)
Born in: Damascus
Year of birth: 1988
Place of death: Mleha area [East Ghouta]
Date: 1 July 2014

Originally from Imam Ja'afar al-Sadiq neighbourhood in Damascus, he can be observed here to be wearing Liwa al-Sayyida Ruqayya insignia. The reference to him as 'al-mulazim sharf' may also suggest he was in the Syrian army/NDF. The al-Mleha campaign in 2014involved a large number of Shi'i militias, including Hezbollah, the Rapid Intervention Regiment (Iraqi), Liwa al-Imam al-Hussein (Iraqi), Liwa Dhu al-Fiqar (Iraqi) and Liwa Assad Allah al-Ghalib (Iraqi).


AlaMohsenKawayfati
Name: Ala' Mohsen Kuwayfati (al-Doushka)
Born in: Damascus
Year of birth: 1988
Place of death: Mleha area
Date of death: 16 June 2014

Photos exist of this "martyr" wearing Kata'ib Sayyid al-Shuhada' insignia.


HusseinAbdalKarim
Name: Hussein Abd al-Karim Ala' al-Din (Gharib)
Born in: Damascus
Year of birth: 1994
Place of death: al-Otayba area
(One of the 10 fighters killed in repelling an attack on Damascus airport).

Note photos featuring a portrait of him under the title of al-mulazim sharf, which in this case points to NDF affiliation. The bodies of the 10 fighters were brought to Imam Ja'afar al-Sadiq neighbourhood in Damascus.


AliMahmoudDarwish
Name: Ali Mahmoud Darwish (Karar)
Born in: Damascus
Year of birth: 1989
Place of death: al-Otayba area
Date of death: 3 December 2013
(One of the 10 fighters killed in repelling an attack on Damascus airport).

Featured in an official NDF video.


MuhammadDibAbbas
Name: Muhammad Dib Abbas Halawa al-Bani (Muntadhar)
Born in: Damascus
Year of birth: 1985
Place of death: al-Otayba area
(One of the 10 fighters killed in repelling an attack on Damascus airport).

His portrait in a funeral procession is featured in an official NDF video.


HassanHaithanNahas
Name: Hassan Haitham al-Nahas (Muslim)
Born in: Damascus
Year of birth: 1995
Place of death: al-Otayba area
Date of death: 3 December 2013
(One of the 10 fighters killed in repelling an attack on Damascus airport).

Featured in an official NDF video.


AhmadHassanHalawaalBani
Name: Ahmad Hassan Halawa al-Bani (Jareh)
Born in: Damascus
Year of birth: 1994
Place of death: al-Otayba area
Date of death: 3 December 2013
(One of the 10 fighters killed in repelling an attack on Damascus airport).

Featured in an official NDF video.


MuhammadJawadAbbasDarwish
Name: Muhammad Jawad Abbas Darwish (Abu Turab)
Born in: Damascus
Year of birth: 1997
Place of death: al-Otayba area
Date of death: 3 December 2013
(One of the 10 fighters killed in repelling an attack on Damascus airport. Described as the youngest of the fighters killed, he was 15 or 16 years old at the time of his death).

Like Ala' Zahwa, he can be observed with the Liwa Ansar al-Hussein insignia.


TalalHaddad
Name: Talal Haddad
Born in: Damascus
Year of birth: 1977
Place of death: al-Otayba area
Date of death: 3 December 2013
(One of the 10 fighters killed in repelling an attack on Damascus airport).


MuhammadAliHamti
Name: Muhammad Ali Hamti
Born in: Damascus
Year of birth: 1977
Place of death: al-Otayba area
Date of death: 3 December 2013
(One of the 10 fighters killed in repelling an attack on Damascus airport).


MohsenAkramalKhayat
Name: Mohsen Akram al-Khayat (Maymum)
Born in: Damascus
Year of birth: 1989
Place of death: al-Otayba area
Date of death: 3 December 2013
(One of the 10 fighters killed in repelling an attack on Damascus airport).

Featured in an official NDF video.


AlaMuhammadZahwa
Name: Ala' Muhammad Zahwa (Martyr of Hussein)
Born in: Damascus
Year of birth: 1984
Place of death: al-Otayba area
Date of death: 3 December 2013
(One of the 10 fighters killed in repelling an attack on Damascus airport).


EmadIbrahimKanan
Name: Imad Ibrahim Kan'an (Abu al-Abbas)
Born in: Damascus
Year of birth: 1995
Place of death: Al-Bweida area (Damascus countryside)
Date of death: 31 November 2013


MuhammadAhmadKhadir
Name: Muhammad Ahmad Khadir (Abu Ruqayya)
Born in: Damascus
Year of birth: 1996
Place of death: Al-Bweida area
Date of death: 31 November 2013

Featured in an official NDF video.


RidhaMuhammadZahwa
Name: Ridha Muhammad Zahwa (Sajid)
Born in: Damascus
Year of birth: 1986
Place of death: Al-Bweida area
Date of death: 17 October 2013

Specifically from Imam Ja'afar al-Sadiq neighbourhood in Damascus.


MuhammadAhmadAjuz
Name: Muhammad Ahmad Ajuz
Born in: Damascus
Year of birth: 1991
Place of death: Bab Touma area (Damascus)
Date of death: 11 April 2013

Specifically from the Imam Ja'afar al-Sadiq neighbourhood in Damascus.


RashidShakerDarwish
Name: Rashid Shaker Darwish (the Ja'afari)
Born in: Damascus
Year of birth: 1977
Place of death: Jobar area (Damascus)
Date of death: 6 April 2013

A video exists giving a description of his life. He was specifically from the Imam Ja'afar al-Sadiq neighbourhood in Damascus and had visited a number of Shi'i holy sites. In his death, he left behind a six-year old son called Ja'afar al-Sadiq Darwish. An account from the time of his death mentions he was in the NDF.


RadwanFawziMarey
Name: Radwan Fawzi Mara'i (Abu Ali)
Born in: Machgara, Lebanon (located in the Beqaa Valley)
Year of birth: 1960
Place of death: Jobar area
Date of death: 14 March 2013

According to an account at the time of his death, he was "one of the members of the popular committees defending the holy shrines in Syria." His will stipulated that he was to be buried in Sayyida Zainab.


SaadAliZamam
Name: Sa'ad Ali Zamam (Abu al-Zayn)
Born in: Safita (Tartous province)
Year of birth: 1970
Place of death: Douma area (Damascus)
Date of death: 2 December 2012

According to Liwa al-Sayyida Ruqayya, he was "the first of the founders of the Islamic Resistance in Syria." He is actually quite a famous 'martyr' in the pro-Assad world. For example, one article notes that he was originally a sculptor, but says that he was born in 1964. The article credits him as a founder of the concept of setting up popular committees as auxiliary forces for the Syrian army. He eventually became involved on Damascus area fronts in Douma, al-Qabun, west Harasta and Sayyida Zainab. He was reportedly killed by an IED, which he came across in one of the gardens in the Douma area and tried to dismantle. It should also be noted that there is a branch of the NDF named after him.


AhmadHassanNahas
Name: Ahmad Hussein al-Nahas (Muslim)
Born in: Damascus
Year of birth: 1987
Place of death: Sayyida Zainab area (Damascus)
Date of death: 14 August 2012

Described by Liwa al-Sayyida Ruqayya as "the first guardian of Zainab."

Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi is a research fellow at Middle East Forum's Jihad Intel project.