Major Aleppo rebel faction
relinquishing armed posts

Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement says it is no longer receiving military support from abroad.

Nour al-Din al-Zenki fighters. (image via AlSouria.net)

BEIRUT – One of the most powerful rebel groups in Aleppo has begun to withdraw from a number of its armed positions in Syria’s second city, blaming the unusual move on a lack of foreign military support.


The Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement—which once received weapons from the US—announced Wednesday evening it was conducting its redeployment around Aleppo “in coordination with other factions.”


Only a day before, the Al-Nusra Front held a massive show of force in Aleppo, driving a convoy of over 200 vehicles through the city before reinforcing its positions to ostensibly face a regime offensive, although activists have expressed their doubts over the Islamist group’s intentions. 


Nour al-Din al-Zenki spokesperson Captain Abdul-Salam Ahmad Abdul-Razzaq, however, denied the Nusra deployment in Aleppo had anything to do with his group’s decision to hand over a series of its defensive positions on the city’s Al-Brij frontline.


In an interview with the pro-rebel Madar Daily outlet, he stressed that Nour al-Din al-Zenki had taken the decision to redeploy “several weeks ago.”


Abdul-Razzaq attributed the “redeployment in Aleppo to the international pressures that the Movement is being subjected to and the high cost of defending the watch points where the movement is based.”


“The Movement is stationed at more than 160 points in [Aleppo] city and the [surrounding] countryside,” Abdulrazzaq said in the interview published Thursday morning.


“While the number of stationed members is over 5000, the Movement has had no support for over eight months.”


He added that Nour al-Din al-Zenki was being subject to “foreign pressures because of its independent decisions,” saying his group “works according to the principles of the revolution and does not allow interference in its internal affairs.”


The spokesperson explained that the “deployment of the Movement’s fighters requires large material resources and they are not available at the moment because of the absence of material and military support.”


“Not one bullet has reached the movement for over eight months,” he said. “What the movement is doing now is redeployment and repositioning.”

Nour al-Din al-Zenki is among the largest rebel groups operating around Aleppo, with the Institute for the Study of War classifying it as one of only twelve groups in Syria that is a “powerbroker,” or faction powerful enough to determine “the success of military operations against either the Syrian regime or ISIS.”


The rebel group has reportedly been financed and armed by the Turkey-based Military Operation Center that is supervised by the US Central Intelligence Agency. The Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement was one of a number of Aleppo insurgent factions armed with US-manufactured TOW anti-tank missiles.


However, Nour al-Din al-Zenki’s ties with the MOC seem to have fallen apart, with another spokesperson from the group telling Voice of America News in late October 2015 that it had not recently received TOW missiles.


NOW’s English news desk editor Albin Szakola (@AlbinSzakola) wrote this report. Ullin Hope translated the Arabic-language source material.

Nour al-Din al-Zenki fighters. (image via AlSouria.net)

Not one bullet has reached the movement for over eight months.

  • dutchnational

    Instead of a power broker a broken power? As they are one of the opponents of the SDF around Aleppo, this is a chance to hurt them badly.

    January 28, 2016