Following on with this series on units of the Local Defence Forces (LDF), we now turn to Fawj Sheikh al-Jabal ("The Mountain Sheikh Regiment"). The name of this group refers to its leader Ali Tawfiq al-Assad, who is part of the extended al-Assad family in Latakia.
Fawj Sheikh al-Jabal was formed around 4 years ago. From the beginning, the group has been affiliated with the LDF and has worked with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Although the group has a centre based in the Qardaha area of Latakia, Fawj Sheikh al-Jabal was originally stationed in Idlib province. After the province almost entirely fell under the control of the insurgents in 2015, Fawj Sheikh al-Jabal retreated and regrouped along with other contingents in the Tizin area to the west of Hama city.
Fawj Sheikh al-Jabal has recruits from a variety of areas of Syria and has fought in a number of places including Aleppo, north Hama countryside and (like many LDF units) the Albukamal area in Deir az-Zor on the borders between Syria and Iraq.
Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi is a researcher on violent non-state Islamic and Middle Eastern groups for the Middle East Forum. He has been widely cited in international media outlets including the New York Times, AFP and AP, and the Washington Post. He tweets @ajaltamimi.