Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade and The Capture of the UN Troops

Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade Logo
The Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, formed in the late summer of 2012, is based around the village of Sahem in southwestern Deraa Province near the intersection of Jordan, Syria, and the Golan Heights. Although the brigade's area of operations is confined to the southwestern region, the brigade claimed to carry out a suicide attack in Busra al-Sham, far to the east, on November 18, 2012. This attack is unconfirmed.

The capture of the UN troops was not the brigade's first abduction. In late December 2012, the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade posted a video of four pro-regime fighters captured by the Golan Martyrs Battalion, a component of the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade. In early February, the brigade posted another video of a pro-regime fighter captured by the Golan Martyrs Battalion. There are also reports that Human Rights Watch is investigating the brigade for executing some captives.

The UN water truck is visible in the background
of this image from a Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade
YouTube video
As of early March, the brigade is attacking regime convoys in the area of Jamla, a village only 1.5 km east of the UN patrolled border with the Golan Heights. This is occurring in the context of a larger battle against Regiment 61, located in the vicinity of the village of Maaria to the south. This battle may partly explain the capture of the UN convoy in the vicinity of Jamla. In the original statement announcing the capture of the UN troops posted on the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade Facebook page, the brigade accused the UN of bringing water and other assistance of the besieged pro-regime forces. This statement was later taken down and replaced with a new statement in which the brigade claimed to be holding the UN forces for their own protection and called on the UN to safely extract them from Syria.

Broadly speaking, the UN is not particularly popular with the rebels. In late January, the Idlib Revolutionary Council posted a statement declaring the UN unwelcome in Idlib province as a result of the UN's willingness to work with the Assad regime to get aid into Syria. 

The fact that the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade replaced the original, more hostile statement, with a far more conciliatory statement bodes well for the captured UN troops. It is a clear indication that the brigade is responding positively to the pressure it is likely receiving from actors outside Syria as well as fellow rebels in Deraa Province.

1) Sahem
2) Maaria
3) Jamla

The Second Statement

The original statement which was taken down shortly
after it was posted

1 comment:

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