The Syrian National Army (SNA): Structure, Functions, and Three Scenarios for its Relationship with Damascus

soldiers talking

The Syrian National Army (SNA): Structure, Functions, and Three Scenarios for its Relationship with Damascus

By Ömer Özkizilcik, Syria Expert at SETA Foundation

The Syrian National Army (SNA) is officially part of the Syrian Interim Government (SIG) and responds to the Ministry of Defense (MoD). Abdurrahman Mustafa, the President of the SIG, and Selim Idris, the Minister of Defense, oversee the SNA. Idris is also the Chief of Staff of the SNA. The SNA is then further divided into legions and factions. The commanders of the three key legions of the SNA, namely Muataz Raslan, Mahmud el-Baz, and Abu Ahmad Nour, are responsible for all of the factions of their legion. The fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh legions are organised under the National Liberation Front (NLF). Each faction commander is officially under the legion’s command, though each legion’s number of factions vary, and each legion commander makes decisions as a representative of their legion in coordination with Selim Idris, the commanders of the other legions, and the council. The council is made up of SNA faction leaders who each maintain their own autonomous area and thus can exercise significant power. Therefore, most decisions need explicit or at least tacit approval from them. The SNA’s Chief of Staff and the MoD have different offices operating autonomously from the factions of the SNA and only respond to Selim Idris. The SNA is additionally composed of eight offices (figure 1): The media office, the military court office, the military police, the guidance counselors’ office, the finance office, the administration and organisation office, the operational office, and the training office.

The ideas expressed are those of the author not the publisher or the author’s affiliation

Published in October 2020

All rights reserved to GCSP

Part of the Syria Transition Challenges Project

Ömer Özkizilcik works at the Security Department of SETA Foundation. Between August 2017 and September 2018, Özkizilcik worked at the Middle East Foundation. Since 2016, he is the editor in chief of Suriye Gündemi. Özkizilcik’s research focuses on the wider effects and repercussions of the Syrian conflict, and, and the intra- and intergroup dynamics of local non-state actors in Syria.