Sultan Murad Division

Introduction

The Sultan Murad Division is a Turkmen opposition faction formed in March 2013 that has very close ties to Turkey. The group claims to have 9,000 members who fight against “the Baath Regime and the ISIS-PYD/PKK terrorist organizations.”* In 2021, the Syrian National Army (SNA), the broader structure within which all Turkish-backed factions reside, formed a committee to investigate crimes committed by member groups. The final report found that most accusations of torture, theft, and kidnapping were leveled at the Sultan Murad Division and the Hamza Division.* The Sultan Murad Division operates within Afrin’s Shera and Bilbile districts and at a base in Qurne village.* Members of the group have also been deployed to Libya.*

Leadership

Ahmed al-Uthman acted as commander until 2018.* Fahim Issa is the current commander as well as the deputy commander in the Azm joint operations center, a formation within the SNA that includes most major groups. Azm was established in July 2021 as a mechanism to facilitate coordination and cooperation between SNA factions.*

Base of Operations

Aleppo countryside in Syria*

Website

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Membership Size and Relevance

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Recruitment and Propaganda

NATO placed Turkey on the Child Soldier Prevention Act list for their support of the Sultan Murad Division, which is known to recruit and deploy child soldiers.* The Division shares responsibility for recruitment to the Second and Third Corps with two other armed groups, Faylaq al-Sham and Faylaq al-Majd. All played important roles in recruiting fighters for Turkey’s operations in Libya and Azerbaijan.*

Violent Activities

According to a recent report by the United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, the group continues to loot Afrin, including the “harvest from thousands of olive trees.”* The report attributed most of the violations to the Sultan Murad Division and the Hamza Division, including violence against locals who complained or resisted attempts to take their property.* According to a witness interviewed by Al-Monitor, the Sultan Murad Division has a policy of rape at the prison in al Rai and has detained more than 100 women over accusations that they are associated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).* The group has also been accused of kidnapping and forced marriage.* In 2016, the Fatah Halab military coalition, of which the Sultan Murad Division is a member, used indiscriminate shelling in Sheikh Maqsoud, which, according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights, killed 23 civilians. *

Rhetoric

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Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

Fact:

On February 26, 2015, a Boko Haram suicide bomber detonated his explosives near a market in Biu, Nigeria, killing 19 people and injuring 20 others. A second attempted-suicide bomber was caught and beaten by a crowd before he was able to carry out his attack.

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