Syrian Islamic Front

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Not to be confused with Islamic Front (Syria).
Not to be confused with Syrian Islamic Liberation Front.
Syrian Islamic Front
الجبهة الإسلامية السورية
Al-Jabha Al-Islamiyya Al-Suriyya
Participant in Syrian civil war
Logo of the Syrian Islamic Front.svg
Logo of the Syrian Islamic Front
Active December 2012 – November 2013
Ideology Salafism
Jihadism
Sunni Islamism
Leaders Hassan Aboud (Ahrar ash-Sham)
Area of
operations
Syria
Strength 25,000 (Dec. 2012, own claim)[1] – 13,000[2] (May 2013)
Allies Al Nusra Front
Free Syrian Army
Opponents Syrian Armed Forces

The Syrian Islamic Front (SIF) (Arabic: الجبهة الإسلامية السوريةal-Jabhah al-Islāmiyya as-Sūriyyah) was a Salafist umbrella organisation of Islamist rebel groups fighting the Bashar al-Assad government in Syria during the Syrian civil war.[3] Its largest group was the Salafist Ahrar ash-Sham, which reportedly "lead" and "dominated" the Front.[4] In November 2013 the Syrian Islamic Front was dissolved.[5]

Background[edit]

The group was founded by eleven Islamist rebel groups on 21 December 2012, including: Ahrar ash-Sham, Al-Haqq Brigade in Homs, the Al-Fajr Islamic Movement in Aleppo, Ansar al-Sham in Latakia, Jaysh Al-Tawhid in Deir ez-Zor and the Hamza ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib Brigade in Damascus.[6][7][8] In January 2013 several of the member organisations announced that they were uniting with Ahrar ash-Sham into a broader group called Harakat Ahrar al-Sham al-Islamiyya (The Islamic Movement of Ahrar al-Sham).[9] In April 2013, the Haqq Battalions Gathering of Hama Governorate became the first new member to join the Front since its founding,[10] in August 2013 this group was merged with several other Salafist rebel groups in Hama to form a new SIF member unit called Liwa Mujahidi al-Sham. The SIF did not include the jihadist Al-Nusra Front, which had been declared a terrorist organisation by the United States.[11]

Operations[edit]

The SIF had reportedly "established a presence across wide swathes of Syrian territory, notably in the north."[4] Apart from its military operations in the Syrian Civil War, the SIF, and particularly Ahrar ash-Sham, diverted considerable resources into humanitarian and other social activities in areas of Syria that they had influence. This included the provision of Islamic education to children, and the distribution of food, water, and fuel. These humanitarian activities were partially subsidized by the IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation and Qatar charity.[12] The SIF’s leader, Hassan Aboud, revealed himself and his real name for the first time in a June 8, 2013 interview with Al Jazeera. In the interview, Aboud claimed that the SIF ran training camps across Syria for recruits to receive military and religious instruction, as well as additional camps to train promising recruits to become commanders. Aboud also claimed that they had received dozens of requests from other rebel groups to join the SIF.[12]

Ideology, positions[edit]

The front's founding statement described its ideology as based on a Salafi understanding of Islam and declared its aims as toppling the Assad government and establishing an Islamic state, governed by religious Muslim law, for the benefit of all Syrians.[8] The group received funding and support from other conservative Salafis in the Persian Gulf,[1] prominent donors included the Kuwaiti preacher Hajjaj al-Ajami, Saudi-based Syrian preacher Adnan al-Aroor, and Kuwaiti politician Hakim al-Mutayri.[12] The Front was "considered less extreme" than the radical Syrian groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra that had been "designated as terrorist organizations" by the United States, and "probably has broader support among ordinary Syrians", according to Washington Post journalist Liz Sly.[4] The Front opposed US intervention against the al-Assad regime, and on 5 September 2013, it issued a statement on its Facebook page stating that it rejected "Western military intervention in Syria and consider it a new aggression against Muslims”,[13] saying that would only serve American interests and not the cause of those seeking to topple al-Assad.[4]

On 22 November leaders in the SIF took part in the declaration of the new Islamic Front uniting rebel groups that had previously operated under the banners of the SIF and the Syrian Islamic Liberation Front. [14] The SIF then announced on its Google Plus account that it was disbanding and that its component groups would henceforth operate under the umbrella of the Islamic Front.[15]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Aron Lund (2013-06-17). "Freedom fighters? Cannibals? The truth about Syria’s rebels". The Independent. Retrieved 2013-06-18. 
  2. ^ "The Structure and Organization of the Syrian Opposition | Center for American Progress". Americanprogress.org. 2013-05-14. Retrieved 2013-12-18. 
  3. ^ Aron Lund, Syria's Salafi Insurgents: the Rise of the Syrian Islamic Front, Swedish Institute for International Affairs, March 19, 2013
  4. ^ a b c d Sly, Liz (6 September 2013). "Syrian Islamists protest U.S. strikes; Americans exit embassy in Beirut". New York Times. Retrieved 7 September 2013. 
  5. ^ "Syria crisis: Guide to armed and political opposition". BBC. 13 December 2013. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  6. ^ "The Syrian Islamic Front: A New Extremist Force". Washington Institute for Near East Policy. 4 February 2013. 
  7. ^ "11 كتيبة مقاتلة تعلن تشكيل "الجبهة الإسلامية السورية" لإسقاط الأسد وبناء "مجتمع إسلامي حضاري"". Al-Hayat. 2012-12-22. Retrieved 2012-12-26. 
  8. ^ a b "Islamic Forces In Syria Announce Establishment Of Joint Front Aimed At Toppling Assad, Founding Islamic State; Syrian Website Urges Them To Incorporate All Islamic Forces In Country". Memri. 2012-12-26. Retrieved 2012-12-27. 
  9. ^ Bar, Herve (13 February 2013). "Ahrar al-Sham jihadists emerge from shadows in north Syria". AFP. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  10. ^ Lund, Aron (3 May 2013). "New Addition to the Syrian Islamic Front". Retrieved 4 May 2013. 
  11. ^ "World awaits Assad's head, but Syrian president is hell-bent on war of attrition". Haaretz. 2012-12-22. Retrieved 2012-12-27. 
  12. ^ a b c "The crowning of the Syrian Islamic Front". Foreign Policy. 2013-06-24. Retrieved 2013-06-27. 
  13. ^ "statement by Syrian Islamic Front". 5 September 2013. Facebook. 
  14. ^ http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/news/international/Six_Islamist_factions_unite_in_largest_Syria_rebel_merger.html?cid=37388154 http://halabnews.com/news/43483
  15. ^ "الجبهة الإسلامية السورية - Google". Plus.google.com. Retrieved 2013-12-18. 

External links[edit]