The Jaysh al-Islam armed Islamist group has released a 32-minute propaganda documentary, via their social media outlets, which covers, in detail, the training regime that troops and officers of the militant group undergo.
The video demonstrates that Jaysh al-Islam has, since 2012, organised a series of boot camps and a military officer academy in East Ghouta with standardised training programs to prepare both enlisted personnel and commissioned officers for anti-government operations in the Damascus region. Whilst some of the training infrastructures have been built by Jaysh al-Islam, other proving ground and boot camp facilities used by the militant group are ex-Syrian Arab Army assets (i.e. battalion bases) which were captured at some point during the war and have since been converted.
The documentary reveals that in addition to military training, troops and officers are also subjected to so-called “religious” training in apparent accordance with Shari’a (Islamic Law).
The establishment of a full-spectrum officer academy in February 2015 is praised in the documentary as being one of the greatest organisational achievements of Jaysh al-Islam to date in the fight against pro-government forces.
The video also makes clear that other Jaysh al-Islam modeled militant training centres have been established in outside of East Ghouta in the provinces of Idlib, Hama, Dara’a and eastern Qalamoun.
At approximately 25 minutes into the video, head of Jaylsh al-Islam’s officer academy, Ammar al-Nimer (a turncoat colonel from the Syrian Arab Army), admits that much of the military training assistance and advice provided to Jaysh al-Islam comes from foreign sources, namely military collages belonging to the Gulf States and “other” (likely Western) countries.
Overall, the documentary is highly politicised in accordance with the militant Salafist worldview. Constant reference is made to the nobility of the “Mujahedeen”, the depravity of “Assad [Shi’ite] gangs” and the necessity for Jihad in Syria.
This article was made possible in big part to Syria-based journalist Majd Fahd, who helped accurately translate the documentary and provide the necessary background information for understanding certain terms and individuals from the video in their full context.