Last modified: 2020-07-31 by ian macdonald
Keywords: syria | national defense force |
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image by Zoltan Horvath, 14 December 2014
"The National Defense Force (NDF; Arabic: قوات الدفاع الوطني
Quwat ad-Difāʿ al-Watanī) is branch of Syrian Armed Forces, formed after summer
2012 as a part-time volunteer reserve component of the Syrian military,
organized by the Syrian government during the Syrian Civil War.
"In Syria, the ranks of pro-government paramilitary groups are growing, signaling a further decentralization of state authority. The most prominent of these is the National Defense Forces (NDF), an umbrella organization, under which several pro-government local militias operate. There are similarities with the Free Syrian Army, a brand that encompasses a wide array of opposition groups ranging from seculars to global jihadists. The reformulation of the government’s armed forces from a traditional military into militias could lead to a growth in warlordism. These units may seek to establish their power in areas where the state is absent, either due to pressure from the opposition or increasingly strained resources.
The new commanders of these paramilitary groups may seek to provide services as well as protection, which will add more players to an already complex mosaic of militias, warlords, and local powerbrokers. Having drawn most of its fighters from minority communities, the NDF are widely perceived as sectarian. As NDF units gain power and take charge of more positions - replacing the regular Syrian army.
The past year has seen a surge in the number of pro-government paramilitary groups, growing from local protection units into an estimated force of 60,000 men4 under the banner of the National Defense Forces. Skilled in urban and guerilla warfare, the increasing mobilization of these groups signals a shift in the Syrian government’s military tactics, and the fact that they are comprised mainly of religious minorities threatens to further deepen Syria’s sectarian strife. Training (is) provided to these groups by Iran and Hezbollah.
Before the formalizing of paramilitary forces’ role in the Syrian army, the groups were often used as “clean up” after government shelling of a village or urban area. Despite a move to formalize the engagement of paramilitary forces by creating, supplying, and training the NDF, they are still, at their core, community-based militias whose local interests may at times be at odds with national-level government strategies. Many are clearly sectarian in nature and some, particularly in the Alawite community, have tribal affiliations. As the conflict has progressed, they have increasingly engaged in looting and other crimes, and it is rumored that the Syrian military has had to forcefully prevent some of these groups from committing further atrocities."
Esteban Rivera, 15 November 2014
Their flag is a black horizontal flag with the
logo in the middle as seen in
(picture on the right)
The flag is seen in jpeg format: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Defence_Force_(Syria)#mediaviewer/File:Flag_of_the_National_Defense_Force.svg
Esteban Rivera, 15 November 2014
Zoltan presented us with a good drawing of the flag of the NDF. Currently,
thanks to some other photo, we can distinguish better the details, and we can
see that the logo is within a white disc, so there is a narrow white spacing
between the outer ring of the logo and the black of the cloth
Jaume Ollé, 13 December 2014