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Armenian irregular units, also known as Fedayees (Armenian: Ֆէտայի, "Fētahi"/"Fedayee", also Armenian: կամավոր, Kamavor, meaning "volunteer") were Armenian civilians who left their families to form armed brigades. Armenian fedayees were volunteers and, literally, "one who is ready to sacrifice his life" (Fedayee fidā'ī,Arabic: فدائيون) for his people). The term Fedayee was a term used by many centuries ago and also used by Armenians in the Ottoman Empire who formed guerrilla organizations and armed bands in reaction to the unchecked murder of Armenians and the pillage of Armenian villages by criminals, tribal Kurdish forces, and Hamidian guards during the reign of Abdul Hamid II. Most of the fedayee leaders were members of the Armenian national liberation movement.
Their ultimate goal was always to gain Armenian autonomy (Armenakans) or independence (Dashnaks, Hunchaks) depending on their ideology and the degree of oppression visited on Armenians. This can be seen in the Dashnak slogan "Ազատութիւն կամ Մահ" (Azatutyun kam Mah), which literally translates as "Liberty or Death".
Armenian fedayees' main goal was to defend Armenian villagers from persecution and at the same time, disrupt the Ottoman Empire's activities in Armenian populated regions. Armenian volunteers fight during Hamidian Massacres, Sasun Resistance (1894), Zeitun Resistance (1895), Defense of Van, and Khanasor Expedition. They were the leaders and members of the Armenian national movement. These bands committed sabotage activities like cutting telegraph lines and raiding army supplies. They also committed assassinations and counter-attacks on Muslim villages. They helped Armenians defend themselves during village purges by Ottoman officials. They were supported by Armenians and quickly gained fame, support and trust by them.
Famous Armenian fedayees in this period included Nikol Douman, Girayr, Papken Siuni