The Rahman Legion is the second most powerful rebel organization in Damascus and its suburbs, after Jaysh al-Islam, and is led by SAA defector Cpt. Abd al-Nasr Shmeir from Homs. Capt. "Abu Nasr" claims to be fighting for a non-sectarian future Syria, and though the Legion occasionally fights alongside extreme Islamist groups such as JAN and Jaysh al-Islam, it is also known to clash with them. It was formed in late 2013 and after a late 2015 merger with the Eastern Ghouta (a Damascus suburb) branch of the Ajnad al-Sham Islamic Union, the Rahman Legion is an estimated 6,000 soldiers strong. After Jaysh al-Islam, the Rahman Legion is the second biggest group in the Unified Military Command of Eastern Ghouta, the most important operations room in Damascus.
Jabhat al-Asala wa'l Tanmiya
The Authenticity and Development Front is a US and Saudi supported alliance operating in Aleppo, Homs, and Damascus, as well as Deir ez-Zor before being kicked out by the Islamic State. Founded in November 2012, it membership of about 5,000 includes a broad range of rebels, from SAA defectors to Islamists. It appears to operate a TOW that was taken from the Islamic State. The Authenticity and Development Front allegedly helped train or equip the New Syrian Army (along with the CIA), a group founded in late 2015 to fight the Islamic State in eastern Rif Dimashq, Homs, and Deir ez-Zor. Member groups of the Front have been involved in both the Jabhat al-Shamiyya and Fatah Halab coalitions. On 28 March 2016, the Homs based group Jaysh al-Tawhid join Jabhat al-Asala wa'l Tanmiya.
The Sham Legion is a independent Syrian moderate Islamist group lead by the relatively unknown Homs native Mondher Saras. It was formed on 10 March 2014, in a merger of 19 different groups, most of which were connected to the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood-tied Commission for the Protection of Civilians organization. In recent years, Faylaq al-Sham has seemed to distance itself from the Muslim Brotherhood, likely in order to gain more support from Saudi Arabia. The Sham Legion is about 4,000 strong and is active in northwestern Syria, particularly Aleppo, as of recent. It was an early member of Jaysh al-Fatah, a joint operations room that includes Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar ash-Sham, but left in early January 2016. It is still a member of the Fatah Halab and Mar'e operations rooms in Aleppo, and fights alongside both the Islamic Front and the FSA. In early March, it was rumored to have come into conflict with Jabhat al-Nusra, alongside FSA unit Division 13.
Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki
Formed in late 2011 by Sheikh Tawfiq Shahabuddin, this organization is named for a twelfth century Seljuk ruler of Syria. It is one of the most important factions in Aleppo and is a recipient of U.S. made BGM-71 TOW anti-tank missiles. The group has joined and left several rebel coalitions over the course of the war, including the now-defunct Liwa Tawhid, Jaysh al-Mujahideen, the Authenticity and Development Front, and Jabhat al-Shamiyya. It fights alongside both the FSA and the Islamic Front, and is a member of the Fatah Halab operations room. Nour al-Din al-Zenki is possibly as big as 3,000 men. The group has incorporated several small ethnically Turkmen units into its midst, and in November of 2015 elected a Turkmen as its leader, perhaps demonstrating its deepening ties with Turkey.
The Levant Front was initially formed on 25 December 2014, as a coalition of the biggest rebel factions in Aleppo. These included the local branch of the Islamic Front (local Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated group Liwa al-Tawhid and nationwide Ahrar al-Sham), Jaysh al-Mujahideen, Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki, Fastaqim Kama Umirt, and the local factions of Jabhat al-Asala wa'l Tanmiya. The coalition was led by Liwa al-Tawhid's founder, Abdelaziz Salameh, demonstrating the large role the faction held inside the new organization. As a coalition, Jabhat al-Shamiyya split up just months later, on 18 April, reportedly due to internal disputes over funding and the group's broad ideological makeup. On 18 June it was announced that part of the former coalition, particularly the former Liwa al-Tawhid/Islamic Front elements and the Jaysh al-Mujahideen splinter group Kataib Thuwar al-Sham, would continue fighting under the name. Former Ahrar al-Sham commander Mohammed Ali al-Harkoush "Abu Amr" was named the new Jabhat al-Shamiyya leader. Jabhat al-Shamiyya is an estimated 3,500 fighters strong and is active in the north Aleppo 'Azaz pocket,' as well as in Aleppo City and, to a lesser degree, in the countryside to the south.
Fastaqim Kama Umirt
Fastaqim Kama Umirt continues to establish itself as one of the more influential and independent mid-tier rebel groups in northern Syria. Primarily active in Aleppo governorate, with a smaller presence in Idlib and Hama, Fastaqim in an FSA-linked group that is a member of the Fatah Halab operations room in Aleppo. It has often subsumed smaller local groups under its auspices, having issued a number of such announcements in late 2015 and early 2016. Reliable estimates of the group's strength are difficult to come across, but the group itself claimed to have over 2,500 fighters in January 2016. Its role in frequent clashes with the YPG/SDF in the Kurdish Sheikh Maqsud neighborhood of Aleppo city makes it one of the more prominent FSA-aligned groups that have come into conflict with the SDF in recent months, but its nationalist orientation makes the group a potential ally of Western-backed forces in northern Syria. Although Fastaqim Kama Umirt remains at arm's length from coalition and U.S. cooperation, having never received TOW missiles, its slowly growing clout and staying power means that the group will play an important role in future combat operations and negotiations in Aleppo.
The Aleppo-based First Regiment was formed on 3 May of 2015 as a splinter group of Jabhat al-Shamiyya's Liwa al-Tawhid elements. Just like Liwa al-Tawhid was, it is local to the northern Aleppo countryside, and is predominantly found in the Azaz pocket, fighting IS, loyalist forces, and the SDF. Al-Fawj al-Awl is also found in Aleppo city, as well as the frontline in northern Hama. The faction is lead by a Khaled Kengo and is an estimated 1,500 strong. It is rumored to be tied to the Turkish Military Operations Command Center and has publicized itself firing a TOW missile at least once. Al-Fawj al-Awl's military commander is known as Abu Assad and was responsible for the 8 May 2014 tunnel bombing of Carlton Citadel hotel, which killed between thirty and fifty SAA soldiers.
Ajnad al-Sham Islamic Union
Not to be confused with the group Ajnad al-Sham based out of Idlib and Hama, this faction operates in and around Damascus. It was created on 2 December 2013 through a merger of five Damascus-based Islamist groups. Though Anjad al-Sham I.U. has fought alongside hardline Salafist groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham, its ideology is believed to be based in more Muslim Brotherhood-like religious movements native to Damascus, as opposed to Gulf-ties Jaysh al-Islam, the rebel dominate faction in Damascus. On 18 February 2016, the wing of the group based in the Eastern Ghouta suburb of Damascus was fully incorporated into Faylaq al-Rahman. Ajnad al-Sham is now predominantly active in the Western Ghouta district of Darayya. Prior to its partial merged, it was estimated to field approximately 3,000 fighters.