Nicholas A. Heras is the Middle East Security Fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) and senior analyst for the Jamestown Foundation.
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Articles by Nicholas A. Heras
The forces loyal to the al-Assad government continue to conduct major combat operations in and around the Syrian capital city of Damascus. In particular, they have imposed a siege on
As the al-Assad government and its allies continue to make gains against the Islamic State (IS) organization in eastern Syria, the regime in Damascus is seeking to expand its influence
The decision by Masoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq (KRG), to hold the September 25 referendum on the independence of the KRG has led to
In late September, the military leader of Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF), General Muhammad Hamdan Daqlu (a.k.a. “Hametti”), unintentionally sparked controversy by announcing that 412 Sudanese soldiers had been killed
The Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq (KRG) referendum on independence that was held on September 25 has faced extensive criticism from a range of Iraqi and international actors. Among the
Italian Foreign Minister Marco Minniti reportedly recently reached an agreement with Katiba al-Shahid Abu Anas al-Dabbashi (The Martyr Abu Anas al-Dabbashi Brigade), one of the most powerful Libyan militias profiting
This August marked the third anniversary of the atrocities committed by Islamic State (IS) against the sectarian minority Yazidi community, who are ethnically Kurds, in the strategic and disputed region
In early July, the United States, Russia and Jordan agreed to support a “de-escalation zone” in the southwestern Syrian governorates of al-Quneitra, Daraa and part of the governorate of Suwayda
Over the past month, Russia, Jordan and the United States began to implement a de-escalation zone in the southwestern Syrian governorates of Dara'a and al-Quneitra. The de-escalation zone agreement, which
The Saudi- and Emirati-led coalition in Yemen continues to be stalemated in its effort to capture areas controlled by the Houthi movement and allied forces loyal to Yemen’s former president
The Saudi- and Emirati-led coalition in Yemen is being challenged by a stalemate, the disunity of its local Yemeni partner forces and back-channel disagreements between Saudi Arabia and the United
The military campaign to conquer the northwestern Iraqi city of Mosul from the Islamic State (IS) is advancing toward completion. At present, approximately 80 percent of the city — Mosul
The international effort spearheaded by the United States and the European Union (particularly Italy) continues to secure widespread recognition of the Government of National Accord (GNA) as the legitimate state
Since the fall of armed opposition controlled areas of the strategic northwestern Syrian city of Aleppo to the al-Assad government and its allies in December 2016, the non-militant Salafist component
Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS, Conquest of the Levant Front) engaged in fierce skirmishes with several armed opposition organizations throughout northwest Syria at the end of January (Arabi
At the conclusion of 2016 and entering 2017, two of the most powerful militant Islamist armed organizations remaining in Syria, Harakat Ahrar al-Sham al-Islamiyya (Movement of the Free Ones of
Omar Abd al-Razaq The military forces and adjutant militias under the command of the al-Assad government, supported by Russian airstrikes and predominately foreign sectarian Shia militias mobilized by Iran’s Islamic
In October, the multi-force operation to capture Mosul from the Islamic State (IS) was launched. The operation is supported by the Iraqi Security Forces, the predominately ethnic Kurdish Peshmerga forces
Nicholas A. Heras Introduction The U.S.-led international coalition against the Islamic State (IS) is preparing a campaign to seize Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city. Located in Iraq’s northwestern Ninewah governorate,
Nicholas A. Heras There is currently a nascent campaign supported by the U.S.-led multinational anti-Islamic State (IS) Coalition to build a local, Syrian Sunni Arab armed opposition movement against IS
Backed by Russian airstrikes, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has in recent months renewed a military campaign to recapture the strategic city of Palmyra from the Islamic State (IS) (Al-Bawaba
SHAYKH MANSOUR: NORTH YEMEN’S INFLUENTIAL POWERBROKER Nicholas A. Heras Yemeni militias mobilized along tribal lines and supported by the Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates-led coalition claim to be in
On September 30, Russia’s military intervention in Syria officially began with airstrikes against Syrian armed opposition forces in western Syria. Since the start of Russia’s military intervention, the Syrian Arab
Over the last two months, an anti-Islamic State offensive conducted by Sunni Arab tribal forces has sought to displace the jihadist organization from two important towns in northeastern Syria’s al-Hasakah
THE SYRIAN REGIME’S ANSWER TO THE ISLAMIC STATE: MAJOR GENERAL MUHAMMAD KHADDOUR Nicholas A. Heras Major General Muhammad Khaddour is currently the overall commander of the Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA)
Associate Fellow Nicholas Heras' article on ethnic Turkmen in Syria was cited in a Bloomberg article on a Russian jet that was shot down by Turkey but landed in Syrian territory held
THE IRGC’S IRAQI POINT MEN IN SYRIA: SHAYKH AUWS AL-KHAFAJI AND SHAYKH AMMAR AL-LAMI Nicholas A. Heras The Liwa Abu Fadhil al-Abbas network, including its affiliated organization Quwat Abu Fadhil
Saudi Arabia’s ongoing armed intervention in Yemen, which began overtly in March with airstrikes in support of Yemen’s internationally-recognized president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, has since become a coalition effort,
In the wake of the Islamic State’s June 2014 takeover of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, the Iraqi government created al-Hashd al-Sha’bi (Popular Mobilization Committees—PMCs), a militia network to help counter
SYRIAN OPPOSITION LEADER ALLIED WITH MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD POSITIONS HIS GROUP TO RECEIVE U.S. AID Nicholas A. Heras Mustapha Berro (a.k.a. Saqr Abu Qutaiba) is the overall leader of Tajammu Fastaqim
VICE News talked to Nicholas Heras, an associate fellow at Jamestown, about the Islamic State's success in existing for over a year in the face of coalition airstrikes and what
Nicholas Heras discussed the Syrian government's strategy of siege warfare followed by the offer to stop hostilities and reintegrate into loyalist forces with The Arab Weekly.
HAMMOUD SAEED AL-MIKHLAFI LEADS THE FIGHT AGAINST THE HOUTHIS IN TAIZ Nicholas A. Heras Yemen’s third-largest city of Taiz, which has a population of more than one million people and
On August 16, a Syrian Air Force raid struck a crowded market place in the capital Damascus’ northeastern suburbs of Douma and Harasta; these suburbs are located in the Ghouta
ALEPPAN FOLK HERO MUHANNA JAFFALA LEADS KATA’IB ABU AMARA DESPITE ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT Nicholas A. Heras On July 2, several of the most influential militant Salafist and Islamist rebel organizations in
BEATING ON ASSAD’S DOOR: SYRIAN MILITIA FIGHTER ABD AL-NASR SHMEIR Nicholas A. Heras Damascus’ suburban region of eastern Ghouta is a site of ongoing and vicious conflict between the Syrian
TRANS-SAHARAN JIHADIST LEADER DECLARES ALLEGIANCE TO THE ISLAMIC STATE Nicholas A. Heras In an audio statement sent to the Mauritanian newspaper al-Akhbar, prominent trans-Sahara jihadist leader Lehbib Ould Ali Ould
ABU ABD ALLAH AL-SHAMI: A LEADING SALAFIST MILITANT COMMANDER IN SYRIA Nicholas A. Heras The Islamist rebel campaign Jaysh al-Fateh (Conquering Army) has begun an operation called Ma’arakat al-Nasr (Battle
The Islamic State’s attack on ethnic Assyrian Christian communities in the northeastern Syrian governorate of al-Hasakah in February and the subsequent kidnapping of approximately 220 Assyrian villagers has brought renewed
SHAYKH MUHAMMAD AL-FARIS: ASSAD’S MAN IN QAMISHLI Nicholas A. Heras The Syrian military has begun a military campaign to reduce the power of Kurdish militias and to seize key transit
THREE NEW COMMANDERS COALESCE TO FORM SYRIAN REBEL AL-JAYSH AL-AWAL FORMATION Nicholas A. Heras A new component of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) was recently created. Al-Jaysh al-Awal (First Army)
JABHAT AL-NUSRA ACCUSES SHAYKH MUHAMMAD SA’AD AL-DIN AL-BARIDI OF DEFECTING TO ISLAMIC STATE Nicholas A. Heras The intra-opposition fighting within the Syrian civil war has taken a new turn. With
NEW SALAFIST COMMANDER OMAR AL-ANSARI EMERGES IN SOUTHWEST LIBYA Nicholas A. Heras Shaykh Ahmad Omar al-Ansari, the leader of the Tuareg Salafist militia Katiba 315, is emerging as one of
Leading the Fight against Islamic State: FSA Commanders Ahmad Absi Al-Su’oud and Hassan Mar’i Al-Hamadeh Nicholas A. Heras The al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra (JN – Victory Front) recently conducted a
FSA COMMANDER ABU ISSA BECOMES HIGH VALUE TARGET FOR ISLAMIC STATE IN SYRIA Nicholas A. Heras On October 17, members of a Turkish criminal syndicate based in the Turkish city
Abu Malik al-Shami (a.k.a. Abu Malik al-Tala) is the commander of al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra (JN – Victory Front) in Syria’s mountainous Qalamoun region on the Syrian-Lebanese border west of
The CBC discussed the brutal violence of the Islamic State (formerly ISIS) with Nicholas Heras.
Nicholas Heras, a Syria analyst for Jamestown, discussed the various Syrian opposition factions and which of these could possibly receive U.S. training and weapons for the radio program.
FSA AFFILIATE LED BY ABU THABIT WORKS WITH OTHER GROUPS TO FREE ALEPPO Nicholas A. Heras Free Syrian Army (FSA) affiliate Kata’ib Syuuf al-Shabaa (Swords of Aleppo Brigades), one of
Nicholas Heras recently appeared on the radio program Background Briefing with Ian Masters to discuss the Islamic State's attacks in northern Iraq.
Hassan Aboud and Liwa Dawud Defect to Islamic State in Syria Nicholas A. Heras In early July, a powerful Syrian armed opposition group based in northwestern Syria’s Idlib governorate, Liwa
ISIS’ NEMESIS IN ALEPPO: KHALID HAYANI AND ITIHAD LIWA SHUHADA BADR Nicholas A. Heras In spite of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s (ISIS) success in Iraq, it is
Following the Iraqi armed opposition’s seizure of Mosul on June 10 and the subsequent capture of large areas of Ninewah, Salah al-Din and Ta’mim governorates from the Nuri al-Maliki government,
SKETCHES OF SHAYKH SHA'BAN MAD'OUD KHALIFA HADIA AND UTHMAN MLIQTA, RIVAL LIBYAN MILITIA COMMANDERS Nicholas A. Heras Militias operating under the name of the Libyan National Army, and loyal to
A suicide bombing struck an election rally in Baghdad that was being held by the Iranian-backed Iraqi Shi’a militia group and political party Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq (AAH - League of
Jacob Zenn discussed whether or not the Nigerian government will negotiate with Boko Haram on BBC World Service Radio.
Jamestown analyst Nicholas Heras discussed recent developments in Syria on "Arise Review" on Arise TV.
MAYSAR ALI AL-JABOURI ENCOURAGES JABHAT AL-NUSRA-ISIS SPLIT IN SYRIA Nicholas A. Heras Shaykh Maysar Ali bin Musa bin Abdullah al-Jabouri (a.k.a. Abu Marya al-Qahtani) is the amir (commander) of the
Nicholas Heras was quoted in an article about threats to Syrian Kurds by the Islamist Syrian armed opposition by Rudaw.
ABU AYMAN AL-IRAQI DIRECTS ISIS OPERATIONS IN EASTERN SYRIA Nicholas A. Heras Recent reports from Syrian activists indicate that the militant Salafist armed organization Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham
Nicholas Heras was quoted by International Business Times in an article titled "Why Did Three Persian Gulf States Suddenly Pull Their Envoys Out of Qatar?"
Syria’s southwestern al-Quneitra governorate, bordering the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights and the UN administered demilitarized zone, is an active area of conflict between the armed opposition and forces loyal to the
MUHAMMAD MAJID AL-KHATIB: A RISING LEADER IN THE FREE SYRIAN ARMY Nicholas A. Heras The Free Syrian Army (FSA) fired its military chief Salim Idriss on February 16 for being
Nicholas A. Heras was cited by Commentary Magazine in an article titled "It's Not Just Regime vs. Al-Qaeda in Syria"
Recent fighting in the resource-rich Central African Republic (CAR) is inflicting a “human disaster” on the country.  Nearly one million residents of the country have been displaced, a majority
NEW OPPOSITION COALITION JAISH AL-MUJAHIDEEN ANNOUNCED IN ALEPPO Nicholas A. Heras Syrian rebel groups based in and around the strategic northwestern city of Aleppo announced the formation of the Jaish
Jamestown Analyst Nicholas A Heras appeared on the nationally syndicated radio program "Background Briefing" to discuss the current situation in Syria.
EASTERN SYRIAN MILITANT LEADER ANNOUNCES CHANGE OF ALLEGIANCE FROM FSA TO AL-QAEDA Nicholas A. Heras Saddam al-Jamal, the former leader of the Liwa Allahu Akbar (God is Greatest Brigade) announced
Bashar al-Zoubi (a.k.a. Abu Fadi) is the leader of the powerful Syrian armed opposition group Liwa al-Yarmuk (Yarmuk Brigade) and the military commander of the Free Syrian Army-Supreme Military Council’s
SYRIA’S MOST POWERFUL OPPOSITION GROUPS UNITE The leaders of seven Syrian militant Islamist armed opposition groups announced the formation of al-Jabhat al-Islamiya (Islamic Front) on November 22 with the stated
Jamestown Analyst Nicholas A Heras appeared on the nationally syndicated radio program "Background Briefing" to discuss the "war within the war" in Syria.
Egypt’s North Sinai region is becoming an increasingly fierce site of conflict between the Egyptian military and local and Gaza-based militant Salafist organizations. The area’s most powerful Bedouin tribes, al-Tarabin,
Shaykh Bilal al-Masri is an increasingly important leader within Tripoli’s Salafist community. Born and raised on Syria Street, the thoroughfare that is the front-line between the impoverished and restive northern
UGANDAN MILITARY ACCUSES DRC-BASED UGANDAN MILITANT SALAFIST LEADER OF COMPLICITY IN NAIROBI MALL ATTACKS Nicholas A. Heras General Edward Katumba Wamala, the Chief of Uganda’s Defense Forces, stated in September
IRAQI SHIITE MILITIA LEADER VOWS VENGEANCE FOR SYRIA STRIKE AGAINST UNITED STATES AND ALLIES Nicholas A. Heras Shaykh Wathiq al-Battat, the Secretary-General of the Iraqi Shiite organization Hezbollah-Islamic Renaissance, which
Kata’ib al-Farouq al-Islamiya (KFI - Islamic al-Farouq Brigades) is a newly formed Syrian Islamist armed opposition group that constitutes an important faction within the powerful umbrella rebel organization Jabhat Tahrir
Jamestown analysts Jacob Zenn and Nicholas Heras were quoted in a September 10 International Business Times article on the recent developments concerning chemical weapons in Syria.
Osama Sayeh Juneidi (a.k.a. Abu Sayeh) is the general military commander of the Syrian Islamist armed opposition group, the Farouq brigade (Kata’ib al-Farouq). He also serves on the Supreme Military
MILITARY OPERATIONS AGAINST SALAFIST INSURGENTS IN THE SINAI DRAW ATTENTION TO THE ROLE OF TOP BIN LADEN AIDE Nicholas A. Heras The Egyptian military has recently re-engaged in a counter-insurgency
MILITARY OFFENSIVE LAUNCHED IN THE CONGO PRESSURES M23 LEADER SULTANI MAKENGA Nicholas A. Heras A new military operation launched by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) military is applying
The Lebanese Armed Forces’ recent battle against the Salafist Free Resistance Brigades in the Abra district of the southern coastal city of Sidon has increased scrutiny of the military’s ability
Jacob Zenn participated in a long interview on the threat posed by Boko Haram to the regional security of West Africa. Zenn was interviewed by fellow Jamestown analyst Nicholas A.
Mustapha Amin Badreddine (a.k.a. Mustapha Youssef Badreddine, Sami Issa, Elias Fouad Sa’b, Ilyas Sa’b and by his nom-de-guerre Dhu al-Fiqar) is an important military and intelligence leader in the Lebanese
LEADERSHIP DISPUTE ERUPTS IN SYRIAN-BACKED MILITIA DEFENDING SHIITE SHRINE Nicholas A. Heras Abu Ajeeb (a.k.a. Abu Ajeel) is the nom de guerre of the Syrian military commander and secretary general
Tribalism remains a primary form of communal identity among Arab Sunnis across Syria, regardless of whether they live in rural or urban areas. As a powerful source of socio-political mobilization,
Nicholas A. Heras' recent article on Hezbollah and the Shiite enclaves north of Aleppo was quoted in a special report published by UPI on June 25.
The question of Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian civil war has become more intense following the recent capture of the strategic, central-western Syrian border city of al-Qusayr in Homs governorate
SYRIAN JABHAT AL-NUSRAH LEADER WOUNDED IN DAMASCUS SKIRMISH Nicholas A. Heras Abu Muhammad al-Julani, (a.k.a. al-Fatih, “The Conqueror”), the leader of the Syrian Salafist armed opposition group Jabhat al-Nusra (JN),
Syria’s Turkmen community is becoming increasingly involved in the country’s opposition movement. The mostly Sunni Turkmen of Syria represent a significant ethnic minority community that is located throughout the country,
As the Syrian Civil War enters its second year, the Popular Committees (Lija’an Sha’abiya), local defense forces supported by the Syrian military, are taking on an increasingly important role in
Jamestown analyst Nicholas A. Heras appeared as a guest commentator on the April 27 edition of the al-Jazeera show "Inside Syria."
Isa Abd al-Majid Mansur is the leader of the southern Libyan ethnic political and militant movement the Tubu Front for the Salvation of Libya (TFSL). He is in his early-40s
PHILIPPINE MILITARY OPERATIONS TARGET ABU SAYYAF GROUP LEADERS Nicholas A. Heras Philippine security forces recently engaged in a series of operations against the militant Salafist organization Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG),
Jemal Oukacha (a.k.a. “Yahya Abu al-Hammam”) is a new commander of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). As the “Emir of the Sahara,” Oukacha has control over a brigade of
The Royal Army of Sulu (RAS) is a militant organization with an estimated 200 to 400 members that seeks to reinstitute the control of the historic Sultanate of Sulu over
SECTARIAN ATTACKS AND RISING TENSION IN QUETTA, PAKISTAN Nicholas A. Heras Sectarian attacks and rising tension have risen in a natural resource-rich province in southwestern Pakistan over the last few
The Lebanese state and Lebanon’s most powerful political actors are increasingly challenged by the ongoing conflict in Syria. Lebanon’s feuding anti-Assad March 14 and pro-Assad March 8 political blocs continue
Jamestown's Nicholas Heras was quoted in an article titled "Lebanon Oil & Gas Analysis 2013: Levantine Basin Natural Gas Muggle" by Macropolis.
Jamestown analyst Nicholas Heras was quoted extensively in an article by International Business Times titled "It's Not Just China Vs. Everybody Else: A Bizarre, Ancient Conflict in Southeast Asia Between
Hussam Abdullah Sabbagh (a.k.a. “Abu Hassan”) is an important anti-Assad Lebanese Salafist commander in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli. A popular commander of Salafist fighters in Tripoli’s northern, impoverished and
IRAQI AL-QAEDA AFFILIATE ISLAMIC STATE OF IRAQ INCREASES ATTACKS ACROSS IRAQ Nicholas A. Heras The Iraqi al-Qaeda affiliate Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) has maintained a steady rate of attacks
Jamestown analyst Nick Heras was recently interviewed for an article on how Syrian armed opposition groups build social capital by providing public services. It was published in The National (UAE) and is entitled "Al
Jamestown's Nick Heras' article on Lebanon's offshore energy fields was extensively quoted in a January 25 UPI article titled "Lebanon's feuds 'could spark gas conflict'"
As the Lebanese government moves towards establishing commercial extraction of the country’s natural gas and petroleum resources in its maritime Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), questions remain whether regional instability coupled
Recent reports of an increase in Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria’s civil war as combatants alongside the Syrian military represent a potentially sharp escalation in the regional impact of the ongoing
Sunni Arab tribalism has a significant socio-cultural, political, and security impact on the current uprising in Syria, with strong implications for post-Assad governance formation. Tribalism has fueled unrest throughout Syria,
Rising tension in the Persian Gulf over the Islamic Republic of Iran’s purported ambition of developing nuclear weapons could lead to a nuclear arms race between Iran and the Kingdom
Disputes over the possible presence of al-Qaeda in Lebanon’s Beka’a Valley are beginning to destabilize Syrian-Lebanese relations. Attention on the Beka’a region has intensified following the December 23, 2011 and
Seeking to roll back the influence of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the Arab world, the recent “Iran Initiative” of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah is a major development in
Iran’s ties to Syria go beyond the geo-politics of the "Axis of Resistance." This is evident in the remote, volatile, and oil-rich al-Jazirah region of northeastern Syria, where there has