The National Defence Forces (NDF) (Arabic: قوات الدفاع الوطني Quwāt ad-Difāʿ al-Watanī) is a pro-government militia, formed after summer 2012 and organized by the Syrian government during the Syrian Civil War as a part-time volunteer reserve component of the Syrian Armed Forces. The NDF is made of units across various Syrian provinces, each of them consists of local volunteers willing to fight against rebels for various reasons. The NDF has generally positive interaction with the Syrian Democratic Forces. On 20 February 2018, NDF battalions volunteered to support the canton of Afrin against the Turkish-led operation against Afrin.
By the beginning of 2013, the Syrian government took steps to formalize and professionalize hundreds of Popular Committee militias under a new group dubbed the National Defence Forces.
The goal was to form an effective, locally based, highly motivated force out of pro-government militias. The NDF, in contrast with the Shabiha forces, received salaries and military equipment from the government. Since the formation of the NDF, Shabiha members have been incorporated into its structure.
Young and unemployed men join the NDF, which some view as more attractive than the Syrian Army, considered by many of them to be infiltrated by rebels, overstretched and underfunded. A number of recruits say they joined the group because members of their families had been killed by rebel groups. In some Alawite villages almost every military-age male has joined the National Defence Force.
Others, like the Druze people of Al-Suwayda Governorate, join to protect their land from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). In late June 2015, the Syrian government began arming citizens of this governorate against ISIL, who were harassing the local population with abductions, executions, and plundering. The locals became a large and powerful NDF contingent in the governorate, including the prominent Golan Regiment.