Weaponizing Students: Mobilizing and Militarizing the National Union of Syrian Students


This project examines the emergence and transformation of pro-state paramilitarism in Syria in the context of the uprising and civil war. It looks at how the National Union of Syrian Students (NUSS) was mobilized and armed to become a paramilitary group. After the uprising of 2011, the Syrian regime empowered the NUSS to repress dissent on campuses, in an attempt to demobilize the protestors. The NUSS carried out dispersion of demonstrations, storming of neighborhoods, denunciation, assassination, theft, and other forms of violence against their fellow students. The NUSS’ acts are well-documented in (social) media, video clips, primary documents, confessions, defections, and eyewitness testimonies. This project will examine the NUSS in their deployment and conduct in the current conflict. How and why did students get involved in the repression, and how did they experience the conflict? How were these networks embedded in the Syrian state prior to the conflict? These questions will be answered through a combination of qualitative research methods, and insights from the literatures on social movements and political violence.





Dr. U.Ü. Üngör

Verbonden aan

Universiteit Utrecht, Faculteit Geesteswetenschappen, Centre for Conflict Studies


A. Aljasem


01/02/2019 tot 31/08/2019