List of rebel groups that control territory

This is a list of active rebel groups that control territory around the world whose domains may be subnational, transnational, or international. A "rebel group" is defined here as a polity that uses armed conflict in opposition to established government (or governments) for reasons such as to seek political change or to establish, maintain, or to gain independence. Groups that "control territory" are defined as any group that hold any populated or inhabited town, city, village, or defined area that is under the direct administration or military control of the group. Such control may be contested and might be temporary or fluctuating, especially under the circumstance of conflict.

It does not include the governments of stable breakaway states or other states with limited recognition.

List of groups that control territory

Within state Rebel group Conflict Control
Territory controlled Notes Leader Headquarters

Al-Qaeda Mali War
Somali Civil War
Yemeni Civil War
2006 Parts of central and northern Mali[1]
Parts of southern and eastern Somalia[2]
Parts of Hadhramaut Governorate and Abyan Governorate[3]
Ayman al-Zawahiri Tinzaouaten (Mali)[4]
Jilib (Somalia)[5]

The Islamic State War in Afghanistan
Boko Haram insurgency
Somali Civil War
2013 Limited territorial control in Afghanistan near Pakistan border
Dozens of villages in the Lake Chad area[6][7]
Several villages in Bari region[8]
Designated a terrorist organization by the United Nations[9] Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi Unknown
 Afghanistan Taliban War in Afghanistan 1996 40% of Afghanistan[10][11][12] Taliban-controlled territory is also shared with Uzbek Islamists Hibatullah Akhundzada Quetta[13]
 Cameroon  Ambazonia – (Red Dragon) Anglophone Crisis 2019 Several villages in Lebialem department of Southwest Province in Cameroon[14] Ambazonia declared independence on 1 October 2017, the Red Dragon militia controlling parts of Lebialem is nominally loyal to the Interim Government of Ambazonia Lekeaka Oliver Unknown
 Central African Republic Coalition of Patriots for Change[15][16] Central African Republic Civil War 2020 Parts of Central African Republic[15] Coalition of multiple groups,[16] including anti-balaka,[15] 3R and MPC François Bozizé (alleged)[15][16] Koumra, Chad (allegedly)[17]
 Democratic Republic of the Congo Mai-Mai Kivu conflict 2015 Parts of north-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo[18] Various groups Various leaders Depending on group
Nduma Defense of Congo-Renouveau Big parts of North Kivu province[19] Shimiray Mwissa Guidon Pinga
 Ethiopia Tigray People's Liberation Front Tigray War 2020 Most of Central Zone in Tigray Region[20] Regional government until 2020 Debretsion Gebremichael Mekelle
Oromo Liberation Front Oromo conflict 1973 Western Parts of Oromia and south east parts of Amhara Region.[21][22] Dawud Ibsa Ayana Addis Ababa
 Mali  Azawad Mali War 2012 Parts of northern Mali[23] Bilal Ag Acherif Kidal[24]
 Mexico Rebel Zapatista Autonomous Municipalities Chiapas conflict 1994 Parts of northern Chiapas[25] Established various de facto autonomous socialist regions Multiple leaders Oventik[26]
 Mozambique Ansar al-Sunna Insurgency in Cabo Delgado 2020 Parts of Cabo Delgado Province[27] Considered to be part of ISIS by some, but disputed by others[27][28][29] Unknown Mocímboa da Praia[27][28][29]
 Myanmar Kachin Independence Army Kachin conflict 2011 Parts of Kachin State in northern Myanmar[30] Military wing of Kachin Independence Organisation N'Ban La Laiza
National Democratic Alliance Army Internal conflict in Myanmar 1989 Mongla Area of Shan State (Shan Special Region 4)[31][32] In control of the area since 2011 ceasefire with Burmese government Sai Leun[32] Mong La Township[31][32]
United Wa State Army Internal conflict in Myanmar 1989 Wa State, northeastern Myanmar; de-jure Wa Self-Administered Division (Wa Special Region 2)[31][33] Military wing of the United Wa State Party Bao Youxiang Pangkham[34]
 Sudan Sudan Revolutionary Front Sudan–SRF conflict 2011 Parts of South Kordofan state and Blue Nile state[35] Abdelaziz al-Hilu Kauda[36]
 Syria Hayat Tahrir al-Sham Syrian Civil War 2017 Large portion of Idlib Governorate in North West Syria[37] Faction within the Syrian Civil War that is in opposition to the Syrian government Abu Mohammad al-Julani Idlib[37]
Revolutionary Commando Army 2016 Small pocket in the Syrian Desert adjacent to the Jordanian border and the Iraqi border[38][39] Faction within the Syrian Civil War that is in opposition to the Syrian government and in alignment with the United States Al-Tanf[39]
 Rojava 2011 Territories in the north and east of Syria, mostly north of the Euphrates River Faction within the Syrian Civil War that is allied to the Syrian government and opposed by Turkey Îlham Ehmed, Mansur Selum Qamishli
Syrian National Army 2017 Border areas of Northern Syria[40] Faction within the Syrian Civil War that is in opposition to the Syrian government and in alignment with Turkey Anas al-Abdah Azaz[41]
 Ukraine  Donetsk People's Republic War in Donbass 2014 Parts of the Donetsk region in Eastern Ukraine[42] Declared independence on 7 April 2014; recognition of this group as an independent state has been granted by the partially-recognised state of South Ossetia[43] Denis Pushilin Donetsk
 Luhansk People's Republic Parts of the Luhansk region in Eastern Ukraine[42] Declared independence on 12 May 2014; recognition of this group as an independent state has been granted by the partially-recognised state of South Ossetia[44] Leonid Pasechnik Luhansk
 Yemen Southern Movement Yemeni Civil War 2017 Some of the territory in South Yemen[45][46][47] Aidarus al-Zoubaidi Aden
Houthi movement 2004 Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen, consisting of most of former North Yemen, including the capital Sana'a, and some minor parts of South Yemen The Houthi movement controls the capital of Yemen[48] through the administration of the Supreme Political Council,[49] which is largely unrecognized by the international community as the legitimate government of Yemen Mahdi al-Mashat Sa'dah

See also


  1. "Speaking with the "Bad Guys": Toward Dialogue with Central Mali's Jihadists" (PDF). 28 May 2019. While the Malian army controls towns and their immediate vicinity, the jihadists rule the countryside, erecting checkpoints on rural roads and patrolling rivers
  2. Evan Centanni (31 May 2013). "War in Somalia: Map of Al Shabaab Control (June 2013)". Political Geography Now. Retrieved 18 August 2014.
  3. Al-Haj, Ahmed (22 August 2015). "Yemen Officials Say Al-Qaida Seizes Key Areas of Aden". ABC News. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 22 August 2015. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  4. Pellerin, Mathieu (November 2019). "Armed violence in the Sahara" (PDF).
  5. "Somalia: Al-Shabaab Leaders Split Over Funds Control". AllAfrica. 27 March 2020.
  6. "Economics of terrorism in Lake Chad Basin". 10 July 2019.
  7. "Several killed in fight between Boko Haram, ISWAP members". 20 January 2020.
  8. "Letter dated 1 November 2019 from the Chair of the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolution 751 (1992) concerning Somalia addressed to the President of the Security Council" (PDF). 1 November 2019. p. 84. ISIL-controlled town of Shebaab
  9. "Security Council Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee Amends Entry". United Nations. 30 May 2013. Retrieved 12 November 2016.
  10. "Quarterly report" (PDF). 2017.
  11. Harooni, Mirwais. "Afghan forces try to push back Taliban from Kunduz city".
  12. "Zarb-e-Azb: 90% area recovered, 1198 terrorists killed". 14 November 2014. Archived from the original on 15 November 2014. Retrieved 16 November 2014.
  13. "ISIS active in south Afghanistan, officials confirm for first time". CBS. AP. 12 January 2015. Retrieved 28 March 2016.
  14. "Cameroun/Sécurité au NoSo : l'étau se resserre autour de Field Marshall". 14 May 2020. Retrieved 16 May 2020.
  15. "CAR says ex-president attempting 'coup' as rebels form coalition". 19 December 2020.
  16. "François Bozizé: CAR accuses former president of 'attempted coup'". BBC. 19 December 2020. Retrieved 20 December 2020.
  17. RCA: gravement malade, le chef rebelle François Bozizé se soigne à Koumra au Tchad, 8 June 2021
  18. [dead link]
  19. "NDC-R: Congo's Contract Militia Which "Killed" FDLR's Gen Sylvestre Mudacumura". 15 May 2020.
  20. "Eritrean forces withdraw from key towns in Ethiopia's Tigray". CTVnews. 30 June 2021. Retrieved 30 June 2021.
  23. "Mali government seeks to assert control over restive north, to send troops to Kidal". 7 February 2020.
  24. "A Tuareg soldier guards the Azawad Movement's headquarters in Kidal, northern Mali". Yahoo News. 5 June 2015.
  25. Tucker, Duncan (1 January 2014). "Are Mexico's Zapatista rebels still relevant?". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 18 August 2014. Today the rebellion remains a work in progress. Having established complete political and economic autonomy, the Zapatistas govern and police their own communities across five regions of Chiapas.
  26. "Caracoles y Juntas de Buen Gobierno". Archived from the original on 28 July 2018. Retrieved 21 July 2018.
  27. Centanni, Evan; Djukic, Djordje (17 August 2020). ""Islamic State" in Mozambique? Control Map & Timeline of the Insurgency". Political Geography Now. Retrieved 18 August 2020.
  28. Bowker, Tom (25 August 2020). "Battle looms in Mozambique over extremists' control of port". Associated Press. Retrieved 28 August 2020.
  29. MacDonald, Andrew (24 August 2020). "Mozambique: Sophistication of Islamic insurgency threatens LNG plans". Groupe Jeune Afrique. Retrieved 28 August 2020.
  30. "Burma attack breaks Kachin truce near China border". BBC. 20 January 2013. Retrieved 18 August 2014. The rebels are seeking greater autonomy within Burma for ethnic Kachins who have had de facto control over a part of northern Burma for more than 50 years.
  31. Kramer, Tom (July 2009). "Neither War Nor Peace The Future of the Cease-fire Agreements in Burma" (PDF). Transnational Institute. Retrieved 15 January 2021.
  32. Deck, Danny (14 August 2014). "Another wrong turn in Mong La". DVB Multimedia Group. Archived from the original on 3 September 2014. Retrieved 15 January 2021.
  33. Gerdes, Luke (8 February 2009). "Constructing Terror: How Issues of Construct Validity Undermine the Utility of Terror Databases and Statistical Analyses of Terrorism". All Academic Research. Retrieved 18 August 2014. The best such example comes from the United Wa State Army (UWSA), an armed ethnic organization that has established de facto control over a portion of Northeastern Burma.
  34. Moe, Wai (17 April 2009). "UWSA Leader Calls for 'Solid, United' Wa State". Archived from the original on 27 April 2009. Retrieved 8 November 2010.
  35. "Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF)" (PDF). Human Security Baseline Assessment (HSBA) for Sudan and South Sudan. 4 June 2013. Retrieved 1 December 2014. Corresponding to the SPLM-N's dominant role, the SRF's locus of control resides in its bastion in Kaoda, and the Nuba Mountains, South Kordofan. Military activity is most prevalent in South Kordofan but extends to Blue Nile and into South Sudan's border states.
  36. Sudan’s PM visits rebel stronghold on peace mission
  37. Ali, Zulfiqar (18 February 2020). "Syria: Who's in control of Idlib?". BBC News. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  38. Seligman, Lara (2 July 2019). "Fears Rise of an ISIS Comeback". Graham Holdings. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  39. Snow, Shawn (16 February 2020). "Iran-backed group launches attack near small garrison in Syria housing American special operators". Sightline Media Group. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  40. Tsurkov, Elizabeth (27 November 2019). "Who Are Turkey's Proxy Fighters in Syria?". The New York Review of Books. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  41. Lister, Charles (31 October 2017). "Turkey's Idlib incursion and the HTS question: Understanding the long game in Syria". War on the Rocks. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  42. Smith, Geoffrey (23 May 2014). "Putin coy over accepting Ukraine vote result". Fortune. Retrieved 18 August 2014. The separatists who have taken de facto control of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions have already proclaimed their independence and said they won't allow the vote to take place.
  43. "South Ossetia recognizes independence of Donetsk People's Republic". TASS.
  44. "South Ossetia Recognizes 'Luhansk People's Republic'". RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty.
  45. The New Arab. "GCC: Aden-based Southern Transitional Council 'doomed to fail'". Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  46. The New Arab. "Banished Aden governor forms independent "South Yemen" council". Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  47. Saudi Research & Marketing (uk) Ltd. "Thirty Southern Figures Reject Transitional Council in Aden – ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English". Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  48. Al-Haj, Ahmed (2 June 2015). "Houthi Rebels Take Over Yemen's Government". Huffington Post. Archived from the original on 6 February 2015. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
  49. "Yemen rebels form rival government". Deutsche Welle. 5 October 2016. Retrieved 27 March 2021.