Supreme Military Council (Syria)

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Supreme Military Council
المجلس العسكري الأعلى
Participant in the Syrian Civil War
Official logo of the council
Official logo of the council
Active7 December 2012 – unclear (officially disbanded by the SNC on 26 June 2014[1])
AllegianceNational Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces
Area of operationsSyria
Size30 officers, representing 5 fronts[3]
Part ofFree Syrian Army

The Supreme Military Council (SMC) (Arabic: المجلس العسكري الأعلى‎, also called the Supreme Military Command[4]) was the highest military leadership of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) from late 2012 to at least mid-2014. The establishment of the organisation was announced on 7 December 2012 with the backing of western and Arab powers as a means of financing and arming Syrian rebel forces.[5][6]

The Supreme Military Council of the FSA supported the Syrian National Council (SNC),[3] it also recognized the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces as the "civil authority" of the Syrian opposition.[2]


Structure of the SMC by late 2013

On 7 December 2012, 260 rebel commanders from all over Syria agreed to a unified command structure of the Free Syrian Army; the participants elected a 30-member Supreme Military Council, which then selected Brigadier General Salim Idris as Chief of Staff.[6][3] The 30 members of the council were divided in groups of six, with each group representing one of five fronts: Southern (Daraa, Damascus, and as-Suwayda), Western (Hama, Latakia and Tartus), Northern (Aleppo and Idlib), Eastern (Deir ez-Zor, al-Hasakah and Raqqa), and Central (Homs and al-Rastan);[3] the council was created with the backing of western powers and many Arab states as a vehicle to finance and arm rebel groups.[5]

On 11 July 2013, a commander of the SMC's Western Front, Kamal al-Hamami,[7] met with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the Latakia Governorate, which resulted in him being killed by ISIL. ISIL then threatened to kill all SMC members.[8]

In September 2013, the al-Tawhid Brigade, Islam Brigade, and Suqour al-Sham Brigade, the largest militias in the SMC, joined with al-Qaeda's al-Nusra Front and several Salafi jihadist and other Sunni Islamic fundamentalist groups to form the Islamic Coalition. [9] The SMC-affiliated groups in the coalition stressed that they were not breaking with SMC, but only the political exile wing in the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces; this left official SMC commander Salim Idriss formally in control of just a few small units.[10]

Between 6 and 7 December 2013, the al-Nusra Front and/or the ISIL raided warehouses under direct control of the SMC at the Bab al-Hawa Border Crossing with Turkey and captured weapons and equipment; the warehouses, one of the largest held by the rebels at the time, held numerous weapons and equipment supplied to the SMC by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United States, United Kingdom, France, and other foreign supporters of the opposition. The SMC leadership requested the Islamic Front, formed by most member groups of the Islamic Coalition two weeks earlier, for help, which the IF rejected as it refused to fight al-Nusra; the IF offered to raise its flag over the warehouses to protect it from attack, before proceeding to storm the warehouses and capture them from SMC units, the SMC-affiliated Ahfad al-Rasul Brigades, and ISIL. Following the takeover, the US and UK announced that they would temporarily suspend their supplies of non-lethal equipment for the SMC through the crossing.[11]

On 16 February 2014, the Supreme Military Council announced that Idris was replaced with Colonel Abdul-Ilah al-Bashir, head of the FSA's Quneitra Military Council.[12] 4 months later on 26 June 2014, Abdullah al-Bashir was sacked by the SNC, and SNC's chief, Ahmad Tohme, said in a statement that he "disbanded the Supreme Military Council".[1]

On 25 September 2014, according to CNN, the Supreme Military Council allied with the Syriac Military Council to fight against the Syrian government and the ISIL.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Syrian rebel command sacked over graft claims". Al Arabiya. 27 June 2014.
  2. ^ a b "Military Political Complex". Syria:direct. 6 October 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d "Guide to the Syrian rebels". BBC. 13 December 2013. Retrieved 16 September 2018.
  4. ^ "Factbox: Syrian rebels against opposition coalition". Reuters. 25 September 2013.
  5. ^ a b Stein, Aaron (December 2014). "Stumbling in Iraq and Syria 2011-14". Whitehall Papers. 83 (1).
  6. ^ a b "Rebel groups in Syria make framework for military". The New York Times. 7 December 2012.
  7. ^ Lister, Charles (2015). The Syrian Jihad: Al-Qaeda, The Islamic State and the Evolution of an Insurgency. 198 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016: Oxford University Press. p. 157. ISBN 9780190462475.
  8. ^ "Al Qaeda kills Free Syrian Army commander: FSA spokesman". Reuters. 11 July 2013.
  9. ^ Hopkinson, William; Lindley-French, Julian (2017-01-06). The New Geopolitics of Terror: Demons and Dragons. Taylor & Francis. p. 37. ISBN 9781315452005.
  10. ^ Sly, Liz. "Largest Syrian rebel groups form Islamic alliance, in possible blow to U.S. influence". Washington Post. Retrieved 2018-07-30.
  11. ^ Aron Lund (12 December 2013). "Showdown at Bab al-Hawa". Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
  12. ^ "Free Syrian Army sacks chief, appoints replacement". Reuters. 16 February 2014.
  13. ^ Bronstein, Scott; Griffin, Drew (26 September 2014). "Syrian rebel groups unite to fight ISIS". CNN. Retrieved 27 April 2016.