GeoIntel: Mapping Violent Non-State Actors (VNSAs) in Syria and the Levant (Updates)

Download the Detailed Table in PDF [Subject to Updates]


Shia Jihadis (Damascus, Baghdad, Beirut, Tehran, IRGC-backed)

In Aleppo

  • Junud al-Mahdi
  • Liwa Imam al-Baqir,
  • Fawj al-Imam al-Hujja,
  • Liwa al-Imam Zain al-Abidain

In Damascus and Hama

  • Al-Ghalibun,
  • Liwa al-Imam al-Mahdi,
  • Quwat al-Ridha

In broader Syria

  • Hezbollah (mother organization)
  • Hezbollah fi Souriya (as of early 2019, Syrian official branch of Hezbollah)

The elite units of

  • Tiger Forces
  • Regiment Commander Martyr Imad Mugniyah
  • Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)
  • Quds Force (IRGC)

Palestinians (mostly Hamas and Tehran backed)

  • Free Palestine Movement
  • Galilee Forces
  • Fatah al-Intifada
  • Saraya (armed wing of Palestinian Democracy Party)
  • Liwa al-Quds

Other pro-government groups

In Raqqa and Eastern Syria

  • Popular Resistance of the Eastern Region

In government-controlled areas

  • Hizb al-Baʿath al-ʿArabī al-Ishtirākī (Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party)
  • Shabiha (irregular gangs)
  • Mukhabarat (intelligence agencies)

European mercenaries (mostly affiliated to ethno-nationalistic/neo-Nazi groups of “Blood & Honor” and European “Straserists”

  • Mavros Krinos, Greek individuals
  • Blood & Honor, UK and US individuals


  • Dareh al-Watan
  • Jaysh al-Muwahhideen
  • Lebayk ya Salman



Kurdish groups

In Northern Syria, Turkey, and Iraq

  • Partiya Yekîtiya Demokrat – PYD (Democratic Union Party)
  • Ḥdoywotho d’Sutoro d’Amo – YPG (People’s Protection Units) – PYD’s militia
  • Yekîneyên Parastina Jin – YPJ (Women’s Protection Units) – PYD’s militia

In Syria and Turkey

  • Partiya Karkerên Kurdistanê (PKK) – Kurdistan Workers Party

Sunni and Saudi-backed groups (allegedly)

In broader Syria

  • Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS; Levantine Liberation Committee) – Al-Qaeda in Syria
  • Jabhat Ansar al-Din – also Chechnyan-backed
  • Al-Barakh; Wilayat al-Sham – branch of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)
  • Harakat Ahrar al-Sham al-Islamiyya – also backed by Turkey

In Syria and Egypt

  • Muslim Brotherhood in Syria

Sunni rebels

In broader Syria

  • Jabhat Tahrir Suriya (Syrian Liberation Front) – backed by Turkey

In Idlib and Aleppo

  • Suqour al-Sham Brigades (Hawks of the Levant Brigades)
  • Faylaq al-Sham (also in Hama, Homs, and Latakia) – also backed by Turkey and Saudi Arabia

In Daraa

  • Jaysh al-Mu’tazz Billah – received TOW Missiles from Jordan

In Idlib and Latakia

  • Turkistan Islamic Party in Syria (TIP) – funded by Turkish donations

Western and Saudi-backed collectives

In broader Syria

  • Syriac Military Council – Syriac ethnics and Kurdish allegiance
  • Free Syrian Army – also backed by Turkey
  • Jaysh al-Islam – operating in Aleppo and Damascus
  • Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki (also backed by Turkey) – largely defeated and expelled to Afrin

In Northern Syria

  • Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – backed by the self-proclaimed ‘Democratic Federation of Northern Syria’



  • Malhama Tactical (salafi/jihadism, HTS/Turkistan Islamic Party backed, Abu Rofiq’s personal PMC project)

Active in broader Idlib area

  • Academi (US company; former Blackwater)

Active in SDF territory

  • Slavonic Corps (first PMC appeared in Syria, 2013, ex-Russian elite forces, Hong Kong based company, as of 2015 dissolved

Active in Aleppo

  • Wagner Group (major Russian PMC, ex-Russian elite forces and Ukraine veterans)

Active in broader Syria

  • Triple Canopy, Inc. (founded by US Army Special Forces veterans; parent company is Constellis Group, formed with former Blackwater)

*This entry is subject to updates.

By the Geopolitical Cyprus Team

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