Archive: The 'Martyrs' of the National Defence Forces (al-Suwayda' Centre)
The National Defence Forces (NDF) is one of the best-known pro-Syrian government auxiliary formations in the Syrian civil war, first emerging at the end of 2012 as a nationwide organisation of various pro-government armed groups that emerged in the 2011-2012 period. Iran and Hezbollah played a role in the creation, training and arming of the NDF initially, but this does not mean that the NDF should be seen as some sort of ‘Iranian proxy’ or Iranian/Hezbollah-backed ‘parallel army’ in Syria, but rather simply one of multiple contributions by the Syrian government’s allies to bolstering the forces on its side. Organisationally, Iran and Hezbollah have been much more closely involved in the ‘Local Defence Forces’ network that first emerged during this same period.
The NDF is itself organised into a ‘general secretariat’ (al-amana al-aama) and various provincial and local ‘centres’ (marakiz). The following post presents a first-of-its-kind archive of NDF ‘martyrs’ (killed personnel): namely, the ‘martyrs’ of the NDF’s al-Suwayda’ centre, which is based in the primarily Druze province of al-Suwayda’ in southern Syria. The NDF was for years one of the more powerful pro-government factions in the province, and the al-Suwayda’ centre claimed over 200 ‘martyrs’ as of 2018. However, these records supplied to me by the al-Suwayda’ centre and spanning the years 2012-2020, only list 145 ‘martyrs.’
I have redacted some of the information in these records (namely, omitting phone numbers and ID numbers). Nonetheless, I hope it provides some insight into the NDF’s role in the war and helps to preserve the historical record. One of the more notable observations from these documents is the large number of NDF fighters who were killed in the Islamic State attack on al-Suwayda’ in July 2018 that killed hundreds of Druze.