DARAA, Syria (North Press) – Members of the Eighth Brigade of the Russian-backed Fifth Corps, in the eastern countryside of Daraa, southern Syria, reject Syrian government’s settlement and handing over their weapons.
After the settlements reached the towns of Sayda, al-Nai’ma and Keheil, the government security services asked the Brigade’s members in the three towns to hand over their weapons, where they refused to do so.
Local sources in Sayda told North Press that the town’s notables asked the security committee of the government forces to disarm all citizens residing in the town who are affiliated with several security agencies, led by members of the Eighth Brigade.
According to special sources of the Eighth Brigade, officers from the Russian Military Police (MP) met with the leadership of the Eighth Brigade on October 11, in the city of Busra al-Sham in the eastern countryside of Daraa, headed by the deputy commander of the Brigade, Ali al-Sabah al-Miqdad, known as Ali Bash.
The sources said that the Russian officers asked the command of the Brigade to inform their members in the town of Sayda to hand over their light weapons.
The leadership of the Eighth Brigade refused to hand over weapons to the government forces, but it asked its members to hand over their weapons and the Brigade’s vehicles in Busra al-Sham to the leadership, the sources added.
The same sources indicated that the weapons are still in the possession of the Eighth Brigade members in Sayda, and they have not been handed over so far.
They also revealed that all files of the Brigade’s members have been transferred to the Military Intelligence Division.
The same sources indicated that the weapons are still in the possession of members of the Eighth Brigade in Sayda, and they have not been delivered so far. They also revealed that all files of the brigade’s members have been transferred to the Military Intelligence Division.
The formation of the Brigade
One of the terms of the settlement agreement, which was held in the summer of 2018, was that the status of all wanted persons in Daraa governorate, including civilians and soldiers who defected from government forces or government-affiliated institutions, would be settled.
After the settlement process in Daraa ended in late August 2018, a race to recruit young people started by the security branches of the government forces in order to fully impose their control over the south and ensure that these young men did not go to the formations of the Fifth Corps, which receives its support and orders directly from Russia.
The Eighth Brigade was established on the ruins of the Shabab al-Sunna faction headed by Ahmed al-Awda of the Syrian opposition during its control of southern Syria.
Al-Awda was a part of the negotiations that took place between the leaders of the Syrian opposition factions in Daraa with government forces under the auspices of Russia in the Busra al-Sham Citadel in the eastern countryside of Daraa, the headquarters of the Shabab al-Sunna at the time.
The meetings at that time led to a settlement agreement that stopped the Russian bombing of the area in exchange for the Syrian opposition factions handing over their heavy weapons.
The beginning was in Busra al-Sham, which has since become the main headquarters of the Eighth Brigade’s command.
The Shabab al-Sunna factions handed over a number of tanks and heavy vehicles, in addition to a number of cannons and anti-aircraft guns.
Al-Awda worked to organize the Eighth Brigade to a great extent, as it conducted a military course for dozens of young men from Daraa Governorate.
Upon military course graduation in the presence of the Russian MP, al-Awda announced on June 23, 2020, the formation of Horan Army during the memorial service for a number of the Brigade’s members who were killed by the explosion of their bus on Keheil-Busra al-Sham road in the eastern countryside of Daraa while returning from their headquarters in the town of Salma in Latakia.
However, this army did not see the light of day due to Russia’s failure to allow the expansion of the Eighth Brigade, which has 1,500 members, most of whom are former members of the former Syrian opposition factions, according to informed sources told North Press.
The Eighth Brigade has been assigned by Russia for several missions over the past years, the first of which was in Yarmouk Basin area and hunting down the remnants of the Islamic State (ISIS).
After an agreement between government forces and ISIS took place in Yarmouk Basin area in late 2018, specifically mid-November, a number of the Brigade’s members were transferred to Tulul al-Safa area to support the government forces in their war against ISIS there, to be returned later to Daraa.
Russia asked the Eighth Brigade members to support the government forces in the Desert of Deir ez-Zor before returning them to Daraa governorate after the end of their mission, which lasted for more than two months.
After the Brigade’s fighters returned from Deir ez-Zor Governorate, their mission became to be stationed in the town of Salma in Lattakia countryside.
The headquarters of the Eighth Brigade in the town of Salma is about 35 km from the Russian Khmeimim Air Base, the largest Russian military bases in Syria and the Middle East.
A member of the Brigade in the town of Salma told North Press that their work is limited to shifting headquarters on the outskirts of the town over the past three years without participating in any hostilities alongside the government forces against the Syrian opposition factions.