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The Archivist: 'Go Forth, Lightly and Heavily Armed': New Mobilization Calls By the Islamic State in Aleppo Province

29 November 2015

By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi

Introduction: Context and Analysis

With the intensification of Russia's overt intervention inside Syria, regime forces and allied militias have launched multiple offensives in the north of Syria. One of these offensives is taking place in Aleppo province and has three primary aims: to expand the line of control to the southwest of Aleppo city, to attempt (again) to complete the encirclement of Aleppo city and break the rebel sieges of the Shi'a villages of Nubl and Zahara' to the northwest of Aleppo city, and finally to push eastwards against the Islamic State [IS] and break IS' long-standing siege of Kweiris military airbase.

The question of the Iranian involvement in the new Aleppo offensives is the subject of some debate. Though there have been reports of deployments of thousands of Iranian ground troops, it should be noted that such a move does not suit Iranian modus operandi in Syria, which prefers to rely on proxies to supply the bulk of manpower under elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps supervision. Note the following post from the main Facebook page for Quwat al-Ridha (native Syrian Hezbollah primarily recruiting from the Shi'a in Homs province) on 18 October, which leaves no doubt as to who the main ground commander of the new Aleppo operations is:

"Kweiris airbase, in front of the Commander Qasim Suleimani's eye. The plans have been put in place, the equipment and munitions have been prepared, and the soldiers have entered the operation stage. The leader of the Quds Force, General Qasim Suleimani, is beginning his path to liberate and break the siege of the legendary airbase, Kweiris airbase. And participating in this operation are Quwat al-Ridha from Homs al-Abiya, Quwat al-Nujaba' [Harakat al-Nujaba', an Iraqi Shi'a militia], the Iranian Revolutionary Guards forces and forces from the Syrian Arab Army, under air-cover from the Russian Bear. My friends in Kweiris airbase, Suleimani is coming for you."

Besides Harakat al-Nujaba', which has been a long-established player on the Aleppo fronts, an official from Kata'ib Hezbollah– another Iraqi proxy of Iran- claimed to the Washington Post that 1000 fighters have been sent as part of Suleimani's Aleppo offensive. Newer, more obscure Iraqi militias that have been advertising recruitment to fight in Syria in recent months may also be supplying manpower to the Aleppo area. The Assad Allah al-Ghalib Forces, an Iraqi Shi'a militia that initially operated in the Damascus area as part of Liwa Abu al-Fadl al-Abbas, also appears to have a presence in the Aleppo area.

The combination of manpower boosts and Russian air support helped score gains against both rebels and IS, but as shown by the unseen documents I have obtained, IS has responded to the eastward push by launching new mobilization calls within Aleppo province (Wilayat Halab), including the opening of new training camps. Linked to these mobilization calls has been the launch of IS counter-offensives that are threatening to cut regime supply lines to Aleppo city, including ongoing clashes in the vicinity of the regime stronghold of al-Safira and IS assaults further southward along the Khanaser-Athariya road heading into Hama province.

Previously, the last major mobilization call that produced results for IS took place in late April, with an internal directive issued by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi throughout the Syrian provinces to reinforce the fighting fronts in Salah ad-Din and Anbar provinces [archive: Specimen 3E], with particular emphasis on recruitment of suicide bombers and commandoes. Some weeks later, the mobilization call took the form of an official al-Furqan Media speech from Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The aims of IS were clear: continue the stalemate in Baiji in northern Salah ad-Din province and pin down Iraqi forces, while intensifying the assaults on Ramadi, where Shi'a militia deployments were very limited, in a bid to take control of the city. After all, as the provincial capital of Anbar province, Ramadi undoubtedly has greater value than Baiji, where the oil refinery and town infrastructure have largely been destroyed.

In the overall analysis, one should not overstate the IS capacity to mobilize and launch new offensives. It is impossible to commit with the same degree of intensity on every front where IS faces enemy forces. That said, for Aleppo province at least, IS' enemies- rebels and regime forces- do not have the ability to pose a serious threat to IS' main strongholds. With the rebels in particular, disorganization in the ranks (witness the case of the Shami Front and its multiple fractures) and a two-way war have meant that the overall trend is that IS has pushed ever further westward, though it is unlikely that the international coalition will allow IS to reclaim its one-time 'Emirate of Azaz.'

Among the specimen documents of the new mobilization call are the first documents I have seen from an IS "Shari'a Committee" since the declaration of the Caliphate. The Aleppo province Shari'a Committee may be a provincial manifestation of IS' greater Shari'a Council. On this analytical reading, the Diwan al-'Eftaa wa al-Buhuth (fatwa issuing and research department: also Diwan al-Buhuth wa al-'Eftaa) in Aleppo province may be a subset of the Aleppo province Shari'a Committee, just as the greater Diwan al-'Eftaa wa al-Buhuth is reportedly asubset of the greater Shari'a Council.

Perhaps in support of this reading, one can note that based on the dates given, the mobilization call from the Aleppo province Shari'a Committee comes first (1 Muharram 1437 AH) and then further details- including specifics on locations- are given by the Diwan al-'Eftaa wa al-Buhuth statements, one of which is dated 6 Muharram 1437 AH.

On a final note, it is interesting that although IS officially changed the name of the Aleppo province locality of Deir Hafer to Dar al-Fatah, it still refers to the place by its old name in these documents.

Specimen A: Mobilization Call from Wilayat Halab Shari'a Committee

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

Wilayat Halab
Shari'a Committee

Go forth, lightly and heavily armed [cf. Qur'an 9:41]
1 Muharram 1437 AH [15 October 2015]

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

Wilayat Halab
Shari'a Committee

Go forth, lightly and heavily armed

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

By the fact that the day is upon us all, and that the enemy has begun devising all machinations against Islam, and that the protocols and lines of the greatest epic battles have appeared, and that today is the day of the true sword, and that the promise of God is coming with no escape from it, don't be those who have forgotten God, for He has made them forget themselves [cf. Qur'an 59:19].

The Almighty has said: "Those who believe and those who migrate and wage jihad in God's path, they hope for God's mercy. And God is forgiving, merciful" [Qur'an 2:218].

Ibn al-Qayyim said- after his citing of the words of Ibn Zayd: "And the wondrous thing is that the degrees are mentioned in a hadith of Abu Huraira, and which al-Bukhari narrated in his Sahih collection, on the authority of the Prophet (SAWS)- that he said: 'Whoever believes in God and His Messenger, establishes prayer and fasts in Ramadan, it is an obligatory right upon God that He should enter him into Paradise, whether he migrated in God's path or sat in his land on which he was born,' They said: 'Oh Messenger of God, should we not inform the people of that?' He said: 'Indeed in Paradise are a hundred degrees that God has prepared for the mujahideen in His path: every two steps is as the distance between the heavens and the earth, so if you ask something of God, ask Him for Firdous, for it is the last and highest part of Paradise, above which is the throne of the Compassionate, and from it gush the rivers of Paradise'- narrated by al-Bukhari."

The Almighty has said: "Indeed God has purchased from the believers their souls and wealth, for that Paradise is for them fighting in the path of God. They kill and are killed: a true promise upon Him in the Torah, Gospel and Qur'an. And who is truer in his promise than God? So rejoice in your transaction you have transacted. That is the great attainment" [Qur'an 9:111].

He has transacted this pact with them and confirmed it with various types of confirmation:

The first of them: the Almighty and Exalted's communication in the form of confirmed news with the particle 'indeed' [Arabic: 'inna].

The second: Informing of that in the past form that had been transacted- it was both confirmed and established.

The third: the addition of this pact to Himself- the Exalted- and that He is the One who has purchased this transaction.

The fourth: that He has conveyed that He has promised to deliver this reward- a promise that He cannot go back on or abandon.

The fifth: that He has conveyed the form 'ala' [Arabic: lit. 'upon'] that is meant for obligation: declaring to His servants that it is a true promise upon Him, its promise being upon Himself.

The sixth: that He has confirmed that because it is a true promise upon Him.

How does He encourage those who are afraid with the greatest encouragement to the recompense of wars, and meet death with a welcome chest and courageous heart? By making clear to them that death will overtake them inevitably and that if they die as mujahideen, they will be compensated for the worldly life with the greatest recompense, and they will not be wronged in a state of being killed. This is a wide door, and there has not come in the reward for deeds and their virtues the likes of what has come in it [enlistment for jihad]. And thus it has been the most preferable thing into which man can enlist. And enlistment has been- by the agreement of the 'ulama- more preferable than the Hajj and Umra [minor pilgrimage], prayer and fasting, as shown by the Book [Qur'an] and the Sunna, and it is something openly expressed.

For indeed the benefit of jihad is all-encompassing for the one who carries it out and those besides him in religion and this world, including all types of inward and outward acts of worship. The Messenger of God (SAWS) said: "And by the One in whose hand my soul is, were it not that there were men from the believers who cannot stand to remain behind me and I do not find what can convey them, I would not remain behind a squadron launching an expedition in God's path. And by the One in whose hand is my soul, I should wish that I be killed in the path of God, then be revived, then be killed, then be revived, then be killed, then be revived, then be killed."

In conclusion

Indeed the jihad today is in greater need of us as the Ummah of Islam than ever before. No excuse is accepted for the one who has migrated from the land of Islam to the land of disbelief, and there is no excuse for the one who has abandoned jihad on the pretext of fitna. Indeed the Russian, American, Nusayri and Shi'i enemy has begun threatening the centres of Islam and its sole power in the land.

And God is predominant over His affair but most people don't know it [Qur'an 12:21].

Specimen B: Mobilization call from Wilayat Halab Diwan al-Buhuth wa al-'Eftaa

Islamic State
Diwan al-Buhuth wa al-'Eftaa

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

"If you do not go forth, He will torment you with a painful torment and will replace you with a people besides you and you cannot harm him at all. And God is capable over everything" [Qur'an 9:39].

Now the fighting has come.

Brothers in Wilayat Halab- the eastern countryside.

The Nusayri regime is trying to strive to reach Kweiris military airbase which has made our people in the past years taste the woes of bombing. And the Nusayri regime is trying with the aid of the disbelieving Russian alliance to reach the airbase with the defence facilities, which will facilitate for it the bombing of the inhabitants of the Dawla [IS] at peace in al-Bab, Manbij and Deir Hafer as well as the Muslim populaces in the region. So every capable Muslim must bear arms and join the camps of the Islamic State and its soldiers in the first ranks or aid them with weapons, wealth and prayers.

Wilayat Halab

Specimen C: Mobilization call from Wilayat Halab Diwan al-Buhuth wa al-'Eftaa

Islamic State
Diwan al-Buhuth wa al-'Eftaa
Wilayat Halab

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

The obligation of fighting:

Everyone has begun to know the extent of the international conspiracy of the mushrikeen [idolators], Nusayris and apostates against the Islamic State- may God glorify it. And in the shadow of the ferocious Russian and American attack to which the Islamic State and its inhabitants at peace are being exposed, indeed fighting in the rank of the Islamic State is fard ayn [an individual obligation] on every Muslim, and no excuse is to be accepted for any free individual capable of bearing arms as far as he can. And may all wage jihad with the force God has granted him. There is no excuse for you today in your refraining from supporting this religion.

The Almighty has said:

"Oh you who believe, what is for you when it is said to you, 'Go forth in the path of God,' and you adhere to the land? Have you preferred the life of this world to the Hereafter? But the enjoyment of the life of this world in comparison with the Hereafter is but a little" [Qur'an 9:38].

Wilayat Halab
6 Muharram 1437 AH [20 October 2015]

Specimen D: Opening of new training camp

Islamic State
Wilayat Halab
Camps Administration
Date: 3 Muharram 1437 AH [17 October 2015]

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

"And prepare for them what you can from force and bonds of horses, by which you may terrify the enemy of God and your enemy."

By God's help, the opening of the 'Jund al-Malahem' [Soldiers of the Epic Battles] camps has been completed, in order to respond to the Russian and Nusayri aggression against the villages at in Wilayat Halab.

Joining applications will be accepted in all of Akhtarin, Deir Hafer, al-Bab and Manbij.

Wilayat Halab

Specimen E: General note

Muslim brother,

Your work in digging trenches, raising fences and fortifying the mujahideen's defences is not a consequence of suffering for you but cleansing you of your sins. And we ask God for whoever has made these preparations that he should already have realized the pleasure of jihad in His path. 

 

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