|Guardians of Religion Organization|
Arabic: تنظيم حراس الدينParticipant in the Syrian Civil War and the Iraqi insurgency (2017–present)
Tanẓīm Ḥurrās ad-Dīn
|Active||27 February 2018–present|
|Area of operations||Syria
|Part of||al-Qaeda Rouse the Believers Operations Room|
|Split from||Tahrir al-Sham|
|Allies|| Turkistan Islamic Party|
Ansar al-Din Front
Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order
|Battles and war(s)||Syrian Civil War Iraqi insurgency (2017–present)|
The Guardians of Religion Organization (Arabic: تنظيم حراس الدين Tanẓīm Ḥurrās ad-Dīn) is an armed insurgent group affiliated with Al-Qaeda and fighting in the Syrian Civil War. The head of the group, Abu Humam al-Shami, was formerly a member of Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham and previously the al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda's branch in Syria between 2013 and 2016.[better source needed] Abu Jilibib Tubas and Abu Khadija al-Urduni, members of the Guardians of Religion's shura council, left Jabhat Fateh al-Sham in 2016 due to its reported disassociation from al-Qaeda. Tubas, al-Shami, and Sami al-Oraydi were arrested by HTS in November 2017, in an attempt to stave off the formation of another al-Qaeda affiliated group in Syria. Also, in November 2017, Jaysh al-Badia and Jaysh al-Malahim were formed. The group also rejects infighting against other groups, but has had some tensions with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham on a few occasions.
Shura council members
- Abu Jilibib Tubas
- Abu Khadija al-Urduni
- Sami al-Oraydi
- Abu al-Qasem
- Abu Abdul al-Rahman al-Maki [better source needed]
- Saif al-Adel
In February 2018, the group stated that it is opposed to the fighting between the Syrian Liberation Front and Tahrir al-Sham. [better source needed] Jaysh al-Sahel said that it will fight the SLF if "Muhambal, Bisanqul, and Kafr Shalaya" are attacked.[better source needed]
On 26 April 2018, the Guardians of Religion Organization, along with Ansar al-Tawhid, (a Jund al-Aqsa faction) and Jaysh al-Izza, launched an offensive against Syrian Government forces in the northern countryside of the Hama Governorate.
On 12 October 2018, the Russian government's reconciliation center in Syria accused the group of hoarding materials needed to develop chemical weapons for a false flag attack as well as being an ISIL affiliate. Along with Russian officials accusing the group of being an ISIL affiliate Iraqi media has claimed the group is also an ISIL affiliate operating along the Syrian-Iraqi border, however the group's base of operations is in the Idlib governorate of Syria, the group has not claimed any attacks out side of this region nor have any other reports of activity outside of opposition held areas in Northwestern Syria been reported.
On 15 October 2018, the group published a video filmed in Saraqib which showed the group's religious police, the hisbah, driving around the city with loudspeakers calling on people to adhere to sharia.
On 30 June 2019, in a rare operation against non-ISIL elements, the U.S. carried out a strike against an al-Qaeda in Syria (AQ-S) leadership meeting at a training facility west of Aleppo, which killed eight jihadists from the Guardians of Religion Organization, including six commanders: two Tunisians, two Algerians, an Egyptian and a Syrian. It was the first known U.S. strike in western Syria since February 2017 due to the U.S. and Russia arranging an unofficial deconfliction boundary that largely bars any substantial U.S. forces from venturing into the region. The U.S. did not specify what assets were used in the strike.
On 31 August 2019, the U.S. carried out a series of airstrikes on a Rouse the Believers Operations Room meeting between Kafriya and Maarrat Misrin, killing over 40 Guardians of Religion militants, including several leaders.
It is thought by the Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center that the formation of the group will weaken HTS. Alexander Sehmer of the Jamestown Foundation has stated that Guardians of the Religion Organization gives Al Qaeda the best opportunity to improve its fortunes in Syria.
- "New video message from Ḥurās al-Dīn: "Part of the Works of the Ḥisbah in Sarāqib"". Jihadology/. 15 October 2018.
- "Seven Al-Qaeda-Affiliated Groups Form New Force In Northern Syria". South Front. 28 February 2018.
- "al-Qa'ida loyalists reacted strongly against the NLF merger, saying it's a implemention of Astana & warns of impending attack on them & HTS shouldn't be trusted to defend them. Related, 2 more small groups (Ansar al-Haqq, Abna al-Sharia) join Hurras al-Din along with some jurists". Twitter. 2 August 2018. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
- "You sure about this? The statement say "مجموعة" i.e. group, not "كتائب" (brigades). Also their leader haven't shared anything on this on his social media accounts". Twitter. 31 August 2018. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
- Thomas Joscelyn (15 August 2019). "Wanted al Qaeda leader warns of Turkish influence on jihad in Syria". Long War Journal. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
- Joško Barić (28 February 2018). "Syrian War Daily – 28th of February 2018". Syrian War Daily.
- "Landmine explosion kills and injures Guardians of Religion members in Latakia". SMART News Agency. 16 October 2018. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
- Thomas Joscelyn (29 December 2018). "Jihadis claim US-designated terrorist killed in Syria". Long War Journal. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
- Hassan al-Saidi (2 January 2019). "Is Iraq's 'Guardians of Religion' aiming for a 'Sunni region'?". Al Arabiya. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
- Tore Refslund Hamming; Pieter Van Ostaeyen (8 April 2018). "The True Story of al-Qaeda's Demise and Resurgence in Syria". Lawfare Blog. Retrieved 9 June 2018.
- Sultan Al Kanj (April 2018). "Jihadist In-fighting and the Birth of Horas ad-Deen". Chatham House. Retrieved 16 January 2019.
- Joško Barić (29 April 2018). "Syrian War Daily – 29th of April 2018". Syrian War Daily.
- "Military groups calling themselves "the finest factions of the Levant" form joint operations room". Syria Call. 15 October 2018. Retrieved 24 October 2018.
- "Explainer: Who are the jihadist groups fighting in Syria's Idlib?". BBC Monitoring. 13 January 2018.
- "At least 17 Syria pro-regime fighters killed in rebel attacks". Al Jazeera. 27 April 2019.
- "After military operation for it, violent attack by Horas Al-Din and Ansar Al-Tawheed and Jaysh Al-Izza in northern Hama and heavy aerial and ground shelling target the area". Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. 26 April 2018.
- Mais Noor Aldeen (24 September 2018). "Guardians of Religion shells Russian monitoring outpost, Eastern Idlib". SMART News Agency. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
- "قوة خاصة عراقية تقتل العشرات من تنظيم حراس الدين". August 12, 2018.
- "رئيس الورزاء العراقي يأمر بإرسال قوات خاصة لتأمين الحدود مع سوريا". الوفد.
- "About 8 persons mostly commanders of non-Syrian nationalities were killed in aerial bombardment believed to be caused by the International Coalition warplanes that targeted a headquarters of Hurras Al-Din organization in the "Putin – Erdogan" area". Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. 1 July 2019.
- "Statement from U.S. Central Command on strike against al-Qaida in Syria". United States Central Command. 30 June 2019.
- "How al-Qa`ida Lost Control of its Syrian Affiliate: The Inside Story". Combating Terrorism Center. February 2018.
- "Former Al-Qaeda in Syria Branch Arrests Members of Al-Qaeda in Syria". The Syrian Intifada. 28 November 2017.
- "Tahrir al-Sham Arrests of Qaeda Leaders Cranks up Zawahiri- Julani Dispute". Asharq Al-Awsat. 30 November 2017.
- Mona Alami (6 December 2017). "Syria's Largest Militant Alliance Steps Further Away From al-Qaida". Syria Deeply.
- Rita Katz (28 March 2018). "Has al-Qaeda Replanted its Flag in Syria?". InSite Blog on Terrorism and Extremism. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
- Joško Barić (2 March 2018). "Syrian War Daily – 2nd of March 2018". Syrian War Daily.
- "Russia blames western states for terrorists obtaining chemical weapons". Al-Masdar News. 12 October 2018. Retrieved 24 October 2018.
- "U.S. Launches Rare Strike On Al Qaeda In Western Syria Amid Shifting Regional Agenda". The Drive. 1 July 2019. Retrieved 2 July 2019.
- "At least 40 of the jihadi groups were killed after an unidentified targeting of headquarters and meeting of "Wa Harred al-Mu'min" operation room in Idlib countryside". Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. 31 August 2019. Retrieved 31 August 2019.
- "Syria war: US missile strike on 'al-Qaeda leaders' in Idlib". BBC. 31 August 2019. Retrieved 31 August 2019.
- "Split among Al-Qaeda's supporters in Syria, in light of severe differences of opinion regarding the nature of the ties with Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri". Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center. 13 March 2018. Retrieved 24 October 2018.
at the same time, its establishment weakens the Headquarters for the Liberation of Al-Sham
- Alexander Sehmer (10 August 2018). "Briefs". Terrorism Monitor. Jamestown Foundation. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
The emergence of Hurras al-Din offers al-Qaeda its best chance yet to reinvigorate its support in Syria.