Revolutionary Commando Army
The Revolutionary Commando Army (Arabic: جيش مغاوير الثورة; Jaysh Maghawir al-Thawra, abbreviated MaT), previously called the New Syrian Army (Arabic: جيش سوريا الجديد, Jaysh Suriyah al-Jadid, abbreviated NSA or NSyA), is a Syrian rebel group consisting of Syrian Arab Army defectors and other rebels established during the Syrian Civil War. Founded on 20 May 2015, the group sought to expel the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant from eastern Syria. They claimed to have received training and advanced weaponry from the Authenticity and Development Front and the CIA in Jordan. In December 2016, the New Syrian Army dissolved and the remnants of the group formed the Revolutionary Commando Army.
|Revolutionary Commando Army|
جيش مغاوير الثورةParticipant in Syrian Civil War
Jaysh Maghawir al-Thawra
|Active||20 May 2015 – December 2016 (as the New Syrian Army)|
December 2016 – present (as the Revolutionary Commando Army)
|Group(s)||Ghosts of the Desert|
|Area of operations||Homs Governorate, Rif Dimashq Governorate, and Deir ez-Zor Governorate, Syria|
Anbar Governorate, Iraq
|Battles and war(s)||Syrian Civil War|
In July of 2019, U.S. defense official Mick Mulroy highlighted the work of Maghawir al-Thawra (MaT), a force composed of multiple Arab tribal members, in conducting daily security patrols to clear the 34-mile deconfliction zone around the U.S. military held Al-Tanf Garrison in the southwest of Syria of ISIS fighters.
As the New Syrian Army
The New Syrian Army was established by remnants of the Allahu Akbar Brigade, part of the Authenticity and Development Front and formerly based in Abu Kamal. The NSA was formed on 20 May 2015, and its fighters were trained in Jordan.
On 16 November 2015, the New Syrian Army was deployed at al-Tanf in southeastern Syria, near Iraq and Jordan, and carried out a raid, with or without US aerial support. No further information was given.
On 5 March 2016, the NSA and another FSA group, the Forces of Martyr Ahmad al-Abdo, captured the al-Tanf border crossing from ISIL in a cross-border raid from Jordan.
In May 2016, an Islamic State suicide attack struck an NSA base near al-Tanf, which resulted in a large number of casualties. The attack brought to the surface underlying tensions and a lack of morale within the group, whose members alleged that the US failed to provide them with the equipment promised.
In June 2016, the NSA's base near al-Tanf was hit by multiple cluster bombs from Russian airstrikes, killing 2 and injuring 18. Russia denied responsibility for the airstrike, although photos released by the NSA identified the bombs as Russian RBK-500 cluster bombs which were delivered from Khmeimim Air Base in Latakia.
On 3 August 2016, the New Syrian Army was expelled from the Authenticity and Development Front.
Ghosts of the Desert
The Ghosts of the Desert was an NSA-affiliated anti-ISIL insurgent group that covertly operated in ISIL-held towns in southeastern Syria and southwestern Iraq such as Abu Kamal, Mayadin, and al-Qaim. Since March 2016, they initially sprayed graffiti and raised Syrian and Iraqi flags in the towns, but began to conduct covert military activities the next month, such as sabotage, assassinations of ISIL fighters, and marking positions for airstrikes. The group supplied military intelligence to the US Air Force that allowed them to kill Abu Waheeb in May 2016 in the Iraqi town of Rutbah after the group marked his location.
As the Revolutionary Commando Army
In December 2016, the New Syrian Army dissolved after internal disputes. Some of its remnants regrouped under the name of the Revolutionary Commando Army, led by Captain Abdullah al-Zoubi.
On 30 April 2017, the Revolutionary Commando Army launched an offensive into eastern Syria, reaching the Deir ez-Zor Governorate and capturing the village of Humaymah, south of the T2 pumping station. Two days later, the rebels attacked and captured several sites in the region, including: Tarwazeh al-Wa`er, Sereit al-Wa`er, Mount Ghrab, Swab desert, al-Kamm Swab, the T3 Pumping Station, Me`izeileh and Tarwazeh al-Attshaneh. On 6 May, FSA groups including the RCA captured several sites in the Badiya region of Homs Governorate to the south of Palmyra including Dahlouz and al-Halbeh areas. The RCA was supplied with IAG Guardian armoured personnel carriers by the US during the operation.
In late November 2017, at least 180 fighters in the Revolutionary Commando Army were relieved of duty. According to the United States Central Command, the fighters "completed their military service", while according to the group's spokesman, they were removed due to their "weak performance". As result, between 40 and 60 fighters were left in the group. The unit increased in numbers after that point, with c. 300 fighters serving with the Revolutionary Commando Army by October 2018.
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