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"For a free Ryloth!"
―Free Ryloth Movement battle-cry[1]

The Free Ryloth Movement (FRM), was a resistance movement led by Twi'lek Cham Syndulla during the reign of the Galactic Empire. The Free Ryloth Movement sought to rid their home planet of Ryloth from Imperial occupation, fighting back against the Empire to do so. Later, the Free Ryloth Movement joined forces with the Spectres to remove a Quasar Fire-class cruiser carrier that was bombarding Ryloth. Eventually, the Free Ryloth Movement attracted the attention of the Imperial strategist Grand Admiral Thrawn who studied Twi'lek culture, art, and philosophy and devised tactics that led to the fall of Tann Province.


"We've been acting like a tiny band of terrorists for years—"
"Freedom fighters."
"Freedom fighters. But we have ships, hundreds of soldiers, heavy weapons."
―Isval and Cham Syndulla[1]

The Free Ryloth Movement[10] was a guerrilla force led by the former Twi'lek Resistance leader Cham Syndulla. The organization consisted of hundreds of guerrilla fighters that Cham had personally recruited and trained. While most were Twi'leks, the Free Ryloth Movement was also known to include non-Twi'leks. In addition, the Free Ryloth Movement had many contacts and informants scattered throughout the Ryloth system, several hidden bases, and hoarded materiel. Due to the numerical and military superiority of the Galactic Empire's military garrison, the Free Ryloth Movement carried out hit-and-run guerrilla attacks. In addition, Free Ryloth operatives also stole Imperial weapons shipments and freighters from places as far flung as the Yaga Minor shipyards. Some known military assets of the Free Ryloth Movement included space mines, vulture droids,[1] rocket launchers, and blurrg steeds.[4]



The Free Ryloth Movement was founded shortly after the formation of the Galactic Empire[5] in 19 BBY.[11] Former members of the Twi'lek Resistance led by Gobi Glie, a trusted lieutenant of General Cham Syndulla, were suspicious of the new galactic government's motives, for reasons including the failure to fulfill a promise made by the Empire's predecessor, the Galactic Republic, to withdraw Republic Military forces from Ryloth in the wake of the end of the Clone Wars. Cham, who had grown tired of war and did not want his daughter Hera to live the kind of life he had led, initially cooperated with the Empire, as he believed that his dream of a free and safe Ryloth was close at hand. However, Glie was not the only one of Cham's allies to be suspicious of the Empire, as his wife Eleni began covertly gathering intel on the Empire's activities on Ryloth, which they were tight-lipped about.[5]

The Empire also refused to leave Ryloth due to its valuable spice resources. Imperial forces occupied the planet and imposed a protectorate. While Ryloth was nominally independent and was still represented in the Imperial Senate by the collaborationist Senator Orn Free Taa, the Empire dominated the planet. In response, Cham formed the Free Ryloth Movement to restore his planet's independence through armed resistance.[1]

Cham's gambit[]

In 14 BBY,[11] the Free Ryloth Movement had developed into a well-armed and motivated resistance army that was backed by a network of informants, hidden bases, and storehouses. The rebels launched several raids against Imperial forces which led to the deaths of dozens of Imperial military personnel on Ryloth and disrupted the planet's spice trade. Cham's movement was aided by Colonel Belkor Dray, an ambitious Imperial officer who supplied intelligence to Cham in order to discredit the ruling Moff Delian Mors. Cham's subordinates included Pok and Isval; with the former stealing Imperial ships and equipment and the latter recruiting Twi'lek escorts into the movement and assaulting Imperial personnel.[1]

After Pok was killed by Emperor Palpatine's enforcer Darth Vader while attempting to escape with a stolen shipment of weapons from the Yaga Minor shipyards, Cham decided to shift from "half-measures" towards taking stronger action against the Empire. Viewing the Free Ryloth rebels as a growing threat, the Emperor organized a visit to Ryloth. He was accompanied by Vader, Taa, and his staff. The delegation traveled on the Imperial Star Destroyer Perilous. As planned, a Free Ryloth operative among Taa's staff leaked information about the upcoming visit to Cham. The rebel leader saw it as a perfect opportunity not only to attack the Empire but also to decapitate its leadership; thus leading to the Empire's fragmentation.[1]

Without disclosing the full details of the mission, Cham contacted Belkor and solicited his help for the mission. Both agreed to use the Free Ryloth attack as an opportunity to discredit Mors. Putting their plans into action, the Free Ryloth Movement planted space mines around Ryloth. As planned, the Perilous struck the mines and sustained damaged. From the safety of his hidden base, Cham then dispatched vulture droids to attack the Star Destroyer. After battering the Star Destroyer, Belkor arranged for hundreds of Free Ryloth operatives including Isval to board the Star Destroyer disguised as maintenance crew. The Free Ryloth boarders inflicted heavy damage on the Perilous and killed numerous Imperial personnel. However, they were unable to prevent Palpatine and Vader from escaping in a shuttle.[1]

The Free Ryloth operatives gave chase but were unable to stop the two Sith Lords from escaping into Ryloth's equatorial forest. Mors dispatched Imperial forces to rescue the Sith Lords. While taking part in the rescue efforts, Dray leaked information to Cham and arranged for Isval's party to bomb the Imperial Equatorial Communications Hub; damaging its main satellite and imposing a communications blackout. In an effort to confuse the Imperials, Dray also sowed disinformation claiming that Mors was a traitor. Isval and Cham led teams of Free Ryloth fighters to pursue the two Sith Lords and their remaining Royal Guards while braving dangerous predators such as gutkurrs and lyleks. After the two Sith Lords slaughtered an entire hive of lyleks, the Free Ryloth forces tracked their quarry down to a remote village inhabited by former slaves.[1]

Meanwhile, Mors discovered Dray's treason and managed to win back control of the Imperial forces taking part in the rescue. In an attempt to hide his links to Cham, Dray tried to order V-wing fighters to bomb both Cham's forces and the Twi'lek village the Sith Lords were hiding in. However, Mors ordered the V-wings to shoot Dray's ship out of the sky. Dray's death deprived Cham of his spy in the Imperial government. Still, Cham and Isval decided to proceed with their assault on the village. However, Mors's forces arrived in time to rescue the Emperor and Vader, who proved more than a match for the Twi'leks. The Free Ryloth forces suffered heavy casualties that day and Cham was forced to retreat. Under the Emperor's orders, Vader executed Isval, the Free Ryloth prisoners, and the entire village to leave no survivors.[1]

Over a year after that event, members of the Empire such as Moff Delian Mors presumed that the Free Ryloth Movement had been broken and destroyed by the Emperor himself during that attack.[12]

Working with the Rebellion[]

In 3 BBY,[13] the Free Ryloth Movement continued its insurgency against the Empire. In response, Imperial forces deployed a Quasar Fire-class cruiser-carrier to Ryloth. The carrier was used to house TIE bombers that ran bombing sorties against the Free Ryloth Movement. This undermined the effectiveness and morale of Cham's rebel forces. Cham found unlikely help in the form of his daughter Hera, who had joined the Rebellion. Father and daughter had parted company after disagreeing about the Free Ryloth Movement's place in the Rebellion. While Cham was primarily concerned with Ryloth's freedom, Hera believed that their homeworld's freedom was linked to the growing galactic-wide Rebellion against the Empire. Unable to resolve their differences, Hera had left Ryloth with her astromech droid Chopper and become the leader of the Spectres, who were a small cell allied with Phoenix Cell.[2]

Cham and his followers, Gobi and Numa, met with Hera and her team aboard the VCX-100 light freighter Ghost. While Cham wanted to destroy the Imperial carrier in order to demonstrate the strength of the Free Ryloth Movement, Hera convinced her father to help them steal it for the Phoenix rebels; who needed a new carrier for their starfighters. Cham reluctantly agreed to help and the two rebel teams managed to board the ship using a stolen TIE bomber. However, once they were aboard, Cham and his team stunned Hera and her rebels. The Free Ryloth rebels then proceeded with their original mission to destroy the carrier. However, Hera and her team managed to break free of their restraints. After Sabine Wren and Garazeb Orrelios captured and disarmed Glie and Numa in the munitions rack, Hera managed to convince her father to put aside their differences and to work together.[2]

After father and daughter reconciled, the Free Ryloth rebels and Hera's crew joined forces to prevent the Imperials from recapturing the carrier. During the fighting, the two rebel groups also managed to shoot down an Arquitens-class command cruiser. The sight of the burning light cruiser descending into Ryloth's atmosphere was witnessed by many Twi'leks. This had the effect of emboldening the Free Ryloth Movement and their supporters. The joint cooperation of the two rebel cells in stealing the carrier led Cham to establish a relationship with Hera's rebel cell and the rebellion. As a result, the Free Ryloth Movement found new allies in the form of the rebellion.[2]

In 2 BBY,[14] a new Imperial commander Grand Admiral Thrawn was dispatched to Ryloth. The Chiss Imperial officer studied the Twi'lek species' art, culture, philosophy, and history, and he was able to devise successful tactics against the Free Ryloth rebels. Working with Captain Slavin, Thrawn expelled the Free Ryloth forces from the Tann Province, which was the ancestral home of the Syndulla clan. Cham was forced to flee his family home and left behind several priceless heirlooms, including their family Kalikori. While Hera and the Ghost crew were conducting a supply run, they learned about the Imperial advances in the Tann Province.[4]

Cham, along with Numa and Glie, joined forces with Hera's cell in a mission to recover the Kalikori from the Imperials. While Hera, Ezra Bridger, and Chopper traveled to the Syndulla house, Cham, Numa, Glie, and the other Spectres attacked Imperial forces in a nearby ravine. Hera and Bridger were captured by Thrawn, who added the Kalikori to his art collection. Thrawn then transferred command to Slavin, who contacted Cham and offered to free his daughter and Bridger if he would surrender himself to the Empire. In secret, Slavin planned to capture all of the rebels. However, Hera circumvented Slavin's plan by using Chopper to plant explosives throughout her own home. The two rebel cells then took advantage of the chaos to escape in the Ghost. Thrawn was impressed by his opponents' ingenuity and refused to shoot them down on the grounds that they had earned their victory.[4]


"We are a free world now. Thanks to the Twi'lek resistance. Thanks to Cham Syndulla. And thanks to the likes of you, too."
―Tekku Aylay to Yendor[15]

By 5 ABY,[16] Imperial forces abandoned all of their bases on Ryloth in a wake of a string of defeats against the New Republic, the government established by the Rebel Alliance. Free Ryloth rebels saw the Imperial retreat as a vindication of Cham's long struggle against the Empire. The rebel fighter Yendor became Ryloth's emissary to the New Republic.[15] Ryloth subsequently became an independent world but maintained relations with the New Republic.[17]

Behind the scenes[]

The Free Ryloth Movement first appeared in Paul S. Kemp's 2015 novel Lords of the Sith.[1]



Notes and references[]

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 Lords of the Sith
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Rebels-mini-logo Star Wars Rebels — "Homecoming"
  3. StarWars-DatabankII Free Ryloth Movement in the Databank (backup link)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Rebels-mini-logo Star Wars Rebels — "Hera's Heroes"
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 TBBtemplate Star Wars: The Bad Batch — "Devil's Deal"
  6. TBBtemplate Star Wars: The Bad Batch — "Rescue on Ryloth"
  7. Star Wars: The Rebel Files
  8. Last Shot
  9. "Devil's Deal" takes place shortly after the formation of the Galactic Empire, which is dated to 19 BBY by Star Wars: Galactic Atlas, and depicts the beginnings of the movement, suggesting the organization was founded around that year.
  10. Ultimate Star Wars, New Edition
  11. 11.0 11.1 Star Wars: Galactic Atlas
  12. "Mercy Mission" — The Rise of the Empire
  13. According to StarWars Star Wars Rebels Returns...with Princess Leia on StarWars.com (backup link), "A Princess on Lothal" is "set roughly three years before the events of A New Hope. Since Star Wars: Galactic Atlas dates the events of A New Hope to 0 BBY, "A Princess on Lothal" must take place in 3 BBY. Because Dawn of Rebellion states the events of "The Mystery of Chopper Base" occur three years before the Battle of Yavin, it takes place in 3 BBY. Since "Homecoming," is between these two episodes, the events of the episode must also take place in 3 BBY.
  14. Dawn of Rebellion dates the events of Star Wars Rebels: Steps Into Shadow seventeen years after the end of the Clone Wars, which Star Wars: Galactic Atlas dates to 19 BBY; therefore, the events of Steps Into Shadow must take place in 2 BBY. According to Star Wars: On the Front Lines, Mon Mothma's denunciation of the Galactic Empire and the Declaration of the Rebel Alliance take place 2 years before the Battle of Yavin or 2 BBY. As "Hera's Heroes" is set between Steps Into Shadow and "Secret Cargo," the events of the episode must also take place in 2 BBY.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Aftermath: Life Debt
  16. Star Wars: Timelines dates the events of Aftermath: Life Debt to 5 ABY.
  17. Bloodline