Ahrar al-Sham

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Ahrar ash-Sham)
Jump to: navigation, search
Harakat Ahrar al-Sham al-Islamiyya
حركة أحرار الشام الإسلامية
Participant in the Syrian Civil War and
the American-led intervention in Syria
Logo of Ahrar al-Sham.svg
Variant of the logo of the Islamic Front used by Ahrar al-Sham
Active Late 2011–present
Ideology

Sunni Islamism

Leaders

Hassan Aboud  (2011–2014)[4][5]
nom de guerre: Abu Abdullah al-Hamawi[6][7]
Abu Jaber (2014–2015)[8]
Abu Yahia al-Hamawi (2015–2016)[9]

Ali al-Omar, nom de guerre: Abu Ammar al-Omar (2016–present)
Headquarters Babsaqa, Idlib Governorate, Syria[10]
Area of operations Syria
Strength 10,000–20,000[5]
Part of Islamic Front (2013–2015)[11][12][13]
Syrian Revolutionary Command Council (2014–2015)[1]
Army of Conquest (2015–present)[14]
Fatah Halab (2015–present)[15]
Jaysh Halab (2016–present)[16][17]
Hawar Kilis Operations Room (2011–2016)
Unified Military Command of Eastern Ghouta (2014–2015)[18][19]
Ansar al-Sharia (2015–2016)[20]
Jund al-Malahm[21]
Jaish al-Haramoun (until 2015)[22]
Northern Homs Countryside Operations Room[23]
Itisam bi Allah[24]
Houla Operations Room[25]
al Marj Operations Room[26]
Rad al-Mazalem[27][28][29][30]
Allies
Opponents
Battles and wars

Syrian Civil War

Website ahraralsham.net

Harakat Ahrar al-Sham al-Islamiyya (Arabic: حركة أحرار الشام الإسلامية‎, translit. Ahrār al-Shām, lit. 'Islamic Movement of the Free People of the Levant'‎), commonly referred to as Ahrar al-Sham, is a coalition of multiple Islamist and Salafist units that coalesced into a single brigade in order to fight against the Syrian Government led by Bashar al-Assad during the Syrian Civil War.[32] Ahrar al-Sham was led by Hassan Aboud[5] until his death in 2014.[4] In July 2013, Ahrar al-Sham had 10,000 to 20,000 fighters,[5] which at the time made it the second single most powerful unit fighting against al-Assad, after the Free Syrian Army.[43] It was the principal organization operating under the umbrella of the Syrian Islamic Front[5] and was a major component of the Islamic Front.[13] With an estimated 20,000 fighters in 2015,[44] Ahrar al-Sham became the largest rebel group in Syria after the Free Syrian Army became ineffective (possibly ceasing to exist). The group along with Jaysh al-Islam are the main rebel groups supported by Turkey and Saudi Arabia.[45]

The group aims to create an Islamic state under Sharia law, and is openly allied with Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (formerly the Al-Nusra Front, an affiliate of al-Qaeda) with which it carries out joint operations.[44][46]

History[edit]

The first Ahrar al-Sham brigades were formed just after the Egyptian revolution, and before the Syrian Revolution started in 2011.[47] Most of the group founders were Islamist political prisoners who had been detained for years at the Sednaya prison until they were released as part of an amnesty by the Syrian Government in March–May 2011.[47][48][49] At the time of its establishment in late 2011, Ahrar al-Sham consisted of about 25 rebel units spread across Syria. It has expanded since then; by July 2012, the group's website listed 50 units, and by mid-January 2013, the number had increased to 83 units.[50] Most of these units are headquartered in villages in Idlib Governorate, but many others are located in Hama and Aleppo. Some Ahrar al-Sham units that have been involved in heavy fighting include the Qawafel al-Shuhada and Ansar al-Haqq Brigades (both in Khan Sheikhoun, Idleb Province), the al-Tawhid wal-Iman Brigade (Maarrat al-Nouman, Idleb Province), the Shahba Brigade (Aleppo City), the Hassane bin Thabet Brigade (Darat Ezza, Aleppo Province), and the Salahaddin and Abul-Fida Brigades (both in Hama City).[6]

Members of the group are Islamists.[51] Ahrar al-Sham cooperates with the Free Syrian Army; however, it does not maintain ties with the Syrian National Council.[52] Although they coordinate with other groups, they maintain their own strict and secretive leadership, receiving the majority of their funding and support from donors in Kuwait.[32][53][54] In March 2015, the Suqour al-Sham Brigade merged with Ahrar al-Sham,[55][56] but left Ahrar al-Sham in September 2016[57] although later that same month, this Brigade joined the Army of Conquest, a group which has Ahrar al-Sham as a member.[58]

Mohannad al-Masri, known by the alias Abu Yahia al-Hamawi, was appointed leader in September 2015.[59] Ali al-Omar, known by the alias Abu Ammar al-Omar, was appointed leader in November 2016.[60]

Military tradition[edit]

Ahrar al-Sham is one of the best-armed and most powerful rebel factions active in the Syrian Civil War. It progressed from the use of improvised explosive devices and small-arms ambushes in early 2012 to assuming a lead role in large-scale sustained assaults on multiple fronts by 2013. The capture of materiel from the Syrian Armed Forces enabled Ahrar to regularly deploy tanks and mobile artillery and anti-tank guided missiles. It occasionally employed 1990s-era Croatian rocket and grenade launchers. Ahrar al Sham was involved in every major rebel victory over Syrian Government forces between September 2012 and mid-2013.[7] Ahrar grew significantly by absorbing into its ranks other rebel factions from the Islamic Front and the Syrian Islamic Front which preceded it.[56][61][62]

Flags[edit]

Flags of Ahrar al-Sham
The official flag of Ahrar al-Sham since early 2016 
A variant Black Standard occasionally used by Ahrar al-Sham 

Ideology[edit]

The Islamic Movement of Free Men of the Levant is an Islamist, reformist, innovative and comprehensive movement. It is integrated with the Islamic Front and is a comprehensive and Islamic military, political and social formation. It aims to completely overthrow the Assad regime in Syria and build an Islamic state whose only sovereign, reference, ruler, direction, and individual, societal and nationwide unifier is Allah Almighty’s Sharia (law). Translated into English by Malak Chabkoun at the Al Jazeera Center for Studies.[63]

The group has a Syrian leadership and "emphasizes that its campaign is for Syria, not for a global jihad".[5] However, according to US intelligence officials, a few al-Qaeda members released from prisons by the Syrian government have been able to influence actions of the group, and install operatives within the senior ranks of Ahrar al-Sham.[64][65][66] Such ties were not disclosed publicly until January 2014, when a former senior leader of Ahrar al-Sham, the now deceased Abu Khalid al-Suri, acknowledged his long-time membership in al-Qaeda and role as Ayman al-Zawahiri's representative in the Levant.[65][67]

In its first audio address, Ahrar al-Sham stated its goal was to replace the Assad government with an Sunni Islamic state,[44][46] however it acknowledged the need to take into account the population’s current state of mind. It also described the uprising as a jihad against a Safawi plot to spread Shiism and establish a Shiite state from Iran through Iraq and Syria, and extending to Lebanon and Palestine.[52] Ahrar al-Sham has claimed that it only targets government forces and militia and that it has cancelled several operations due to fear of civilian casualties.[68] It provides humanitarian services and relief to local communities, in addition to pamphlets promoting religious commitment in daily life.[52]

Ahrar al-Sham leader Hassan Aboud stated that Ahrar al-Sham worked with Nusra Front and would have no problems with Nusra as long as they continued fighting Assad, Aboud also said Ahrar worked with Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in some battles but that their agenda was disagreeable. Aboud also said all parties shared the same objective of establishing an Islamic State, whether they were ISIS, Al Nusra, the Islamic Front, or the FSA but they differed as to the "tactics, strategies or methods".[69][70][71][72] Aboud noted that in Syria "there are no secular groups".[73]

Hassan Aboud condemned democracy in an interview with Al-Jazeera, saying that "Democracy is people governing people, according to rules they please, We say that we have a divine system whose law is Allah's for his creatures and his slaves who he appointed as viceregents on this Earth."[74] (الديمقراطية هي أن تحكم الناس بالناس وفق ما يرتئون له من أحكام، نحن نقول بأن لدينا نظاماً ربانياً شرعه الله لخلقه وعباده وهو استخلفنا في هذه الأرض)[75]

An Islamic Front Sharia Court Judge in Aleppo Mohamed Najeeb Bannan stated "The legal reference is the Islamic Sharia. The cases are different, from robberies to drug use, to moral crimes. It's our duty to look at any crime that comes to us. . . After the regime has fallen, we believe that the Muslim majority in Syria will ask for an Islamic state. Of course, it's very important to point out that some say the Islamic Sharia will cut off people's hands and heads, but it only applies to criminals. And to start off by killing, crucifying etc. That is not correct at all." In response to being asked what the difference between the Islamic Front's and ISIS's version of sharia would be, he said "One of their mistakes is before the regime has fallen, and before they've established what in Sharia is called Tamkeen [having a stable state], they started applying Sharia, thinking God gave them permission to control the land and establish a Caliphate. This goes against the beliefs of religious scholars around the world. This is what [IS] did wrong. This is going to cause a lot of trouble. Anyone who opposes [IS] will be considered against Sharia and will be severely punished."[76]

Ahrar al-Sham and the Islamic Front in general issued condolences for Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar upon his death.[77][78][79]

At the border crossing of Bab al Hawa on the Syria-Turkey border, the white "Flag of Tawheed" was raised by Ahrar al Sham.[80]

When interviewed by the Financial Times on 14 August, Ahrar al-Sham commander Eyad Shaar said "We are not from Mars. We are part of Syrian society and the international community. . . We want to be part of the solution,"[81]

Ahrar al-Sham's political representative claimed to International Business Times in December 2015 that Ahrar al-Sham are "not related with al Qaeda, we only fight with them against Assad and ISIS".[82]

Foreign Support[edit]

In the media discussions about foreign support often center on the weapons that foreign powers provide to their proxies. However, in reality money is just as important as weapons. As soon as a soldier / rebel has to fight away from his home, the rebel group has to pay at least his sustenance, and in practice some more. For Ahrar the amount of financial aid it got from abroad might be the very reason it became so powerful.[citation needed] After the December 2013 suspension of all U.S. and the U.K. non-lethal support, which included medicine, vehicles, and communications equipment,[83] to the Free Syrian Army after the Islamic Front, a coalition of Islamist fighters that broke with the American-backed Free Syrian Army, had seized warehouses of equipment. In 2014 the U.S. was considering indirectly resuming non-lethal aid to the moderate opposition by having it "funneled exclusively through the Supreme Military Council, the military wing of moderate, secular Syrian opposition." even if some of it ends up going to Islamist groups.[84] Several European states have attempted small-level engagements with individual Ahrar al-Sham political officials in Turkey.[85]

Financial aid[edit]

Donations from supporters abroad were important for Ahrar's growth. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey have been actively supporting Ahrar al-Sham.[86] A statement issued by Ahrar al-Sham thanked Turkey and Qatar for their help.[87][88][89]

By 2013 the Kuwaiti private fund Popular Commission to Support the Syrian People, managed by Sheik Ajmi and Sheik, Irshid al-Hajri had supported Ahrar with USD 400,000, for which Ahrar recorded a public thank you.[90]

Military aid[edit]

The Islamic Front and Ahrar al-Sham in particular have received weapons from Turkey according to German intelligence.[91][92]

Designation as a terrorist organization and relations with other designated groups[edit]

Ahrar al-Sham's relationships with U.N. designated terrorist organizations has been, and continues to be, a key point of contention in U.S. and Russian foreign relations and in their Syrian ceasefire negotiations.[93] Syria, the United Arab Emirates,[94] Russia,[95] Iran and Egypt have designated Ahrar al-Sham as a terrorist organization[96] while according to the U.S. Department of State, "Ahrar al-Sham is not a designated foreign terrorist organization".[97] However, some U.S. officials have reportedly considered designating it as a terrorist organization because of its links to former al-Qaeda subgroups such as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham.[85] Ahrar al-Sham had worked with ISIS until the two groups began their present-day hostilities with one another in January 2014.[44] Abu Khalid al-Suri, a "top al-Qaeda leader", co-founded Ahrar al-Sham and was until the time of his February 2014 death by an ISIS suicide car bomb attack, helping to lead Ahrar al-Sham[98] which allowed Ayman Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaeda, to influence the rebel group's actions despite the group officially having no affiliation with al-Qaeda.[99] In 2015 Ahrar al-Sham, "whose late leader fought alongside Osama bin Laden," again denied having any links to al-Qaeda[100] and in May 2016, the U.S., Britain, France, and Ukraine blocked a Russian proposal to the United Nations to blacklist Ahrar al-Sham as a terrorist group.[101] The group is openly allied with its longterm[102] partner Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (formerly the Al-Nusra Front), carries out joint operations with the group,[44][46] and is, as of September 2016, in talks with this former al-Qaeda subgroup about a possible merger.[103] In an official statement, Ahrar al-Sham rejected the 2016 September 12 U.S. and Russian brokered Syrian ceasefire citing the ceasefire's exclusion of certain Syrian rebel groups and declared solidarity with Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, which is one of the groups excluded from this ceasefire.[104]

At the June 28, 2016 Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado, John Kerry, perhaps accidentally, referred to Ahrar al-Sham as one of several "subgroups" of terrorist groups, saying

But the most important thing, frankly, is seeing if we can reach an understanding with the Russians about how to, number one, deal with Daesh and al-Nusrah. Al-Nusrah is the other group there – Jabhat al-Nusrah. They are a designated terrorist group by the United Nations. And there are a couple of subgroups underneath the two designated – Daesh and Jabhat al-Nusrah – Jaysh al-Islam, Ahrar al-Sham particularly – who brush off and fight with that – alongside these other two sometimes to fight the Assad regime.[105]

before which he had said of Ahrar al-Sham that

From Orlando to San Bernardino to the Philippines and Bali, we’ve seen pictures and we’ve heard testimony of shocking crimes committed by al-Qaida, by Boko Haram, by Jaysh al-Islam, by Ahrar al-Sham, by al-Shabaab, Daesh, other groups against innocent civilians, against journalists, and against teachers particularly.[105]

These statements had political repercussions with one senior administration official reportedly saying that despite the fact that “for months, we’ve been arguing to make sure the Russians and the Syrian regime don’t equate these groups with the terrorists, Kerry’s line yields that point.”[106] Explaining these comments, US State Department spokesman John Kirby said that "secretary Kerry was simply trying to describe the complexity of the situation in Syria, noting that we aren’t blind to the notion that some fighters shift their loyalties."[106][107]

On October 6 a German court has convicted four men who supplied the group in Syria of supporting a terrorist organization.[108]

Notable incidents[edit]

Ahrar al-Sham was credited for rescuing NBC News team including reporter Richard Engel, producer Ghazi Balkiz, cameraman John Kooistra and others after they were kidnapped in December 2012. While Engel initially blamed pro-Assad Shabiha militants for the abduction, it later turned out that they were "almost certainly" abducted by an FSA affiliated rebel group.[109] There were around 500 people in Ahrar al-Sham in August 2012.[110]

December 2012 Ahrar joins the Syrian Islamic Front[edit]

In December 2012, a new umbrella organization was announced, called the Syrian Islamic Front, consisting of 11 Islamist rebel organizations. Ahrar al-Sham was the most prominent of these, and a member of Ahrar al-Sham's, Abu 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Suri, served as the Front's spokesman.[111]

In January 2013, several of the member organizations of the Syrian Islamic Front announced that they were joining forces with Ahrar al-Sham into a broader group called Harakat Ahrar al-Sham al-Islamiyya (The Islamic Movement of Ahrar al-Sham).[49] In September 2013, members of ISIL killed the Ahrar al-Sham commander Abu Obeida Al-Binnishi, after he had intervened to protect a Malaysian Islamic charity; ISIL had mistaken its Malaysian flag for that of the United States.[112]

In August 2013, members of the brigade uploaded a video of their downing of a Syrian Air Force MiG-21 over the Latakia province with a Chinese-made FN-6 MANPADS, apparently becoming the first recorded kill with such a weapon.[113]

November 2013 Ahrar joins the Islamic Front, open war against Isil[edit]

In mid-November 2013, after the Battle for Brigade 80 near the Aleppo International Airport, fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant beheaded a commander[114] of Ahrar al-Sham forces, mistaking him for an Iraqi Shiite pro-government militiaman.[115]

In November 2013, the SIF announced that it was dissolving, and that its components would henceforth operate as part of the newly formed Islamic Front.[116]

In December 2013, there were reports of fighting between ISIL & another Islamic rebel group in the town of Maskana, Aleppo; activists reported that the Islamic rebel group was identified as Ahrar al-Sham.[117][118][119]

On 23 February 2014, one of the top commanders and al-Qaeda representative,[65][67] Abu Khalid al-Suri, was killed in a suicide bombing in Aleppo, organized by ISIL.[65][120]

On 9 September 2014, a bomb went off during a high level meeting in Idlib province, killing Hassan Abboud, the leader of the group, and 27 other senior commanders, including military field commanders, members of the group's Shura council, and leaders of allied brigades. There was no claim of responsibility for the attack. The day after the bombing Abu Jaber was announced as replacement leader.[1][121][122]

November 2014 meeting with al-Nusra Front[edit]

In early November 2014, representatives from Ahrar al-Sham reportedly attended a meeting with al-Nusra Front, the Khorasan Group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and Jund al-Aqsa, which sought to unite the groups against the Syrian government.[123] However, by 14 November 2014, it was reported that the negotiations had failed.[124]

During the night of 6 November 2014, a US airstrike targeted the group for the first time, hitting its headquarters in Idlib governorate[10] and killing Abu al-Nasr, who was in charge of receiving weapons for the group.[125] On 24 November 2014, a US airstrike on the ISIL headquarters building in Ma'dan, Ar-Raqqah killed another Ahrar al-Sham fighter, who was being held prisoner by ISIL.[126]

March 2015 killing of Christians[edit]

The New York Times reported that the pro Al-Qaeda Saudi cleric Abdullah Al-Muhaisini ordered that Christians in Idlib were not to be killed, and that Christians were being defended by Ahrar al-Sham.[127][128] However, there were subsequent reports of Ahrar al-Sham executing Christians in the city.[129][130]

On 26 April 2015, Ahrar al-Sham, along with other major Aleppo based groups, established the Fatah Halab joint operations room.[15][131]

On 14 July 2015, two suicide bombers blew themselves up at an Ahrar al-Sham Movement headquarters killing Abu Abdul Rahman Salqeen (an Ahrar al-Sham leader) and 5-6 others in Idlib province.[132][133]

On 21 October 2015, the Jund al Malahim operations room was created as an alliance of Ajnad al Sham, Ahrar al-Sham and Al-Nusra in Rif Dimashq.[134]

February 2016 Bombing of Russian base[edit]

On 25 February 2016, a car bomb was detonated at the Russian military base in Idlib, Syria. Ahrar al-Sham claimed responsibility on their website alleging "dozens" of casualties among Russian officials.[135] On the following day, Jaysh al-Sunna's branch in Hama merged with Ahrar al-Sham, though its northern Aleppo branch was not a part of this merger.[136]

On 13 May 2016, Amnesty International named Ahrar al-Sham as one of the groups responsible for "repeated indiscriminate attacks that may amount to war crimes" and reported allegations of their use of chemical weapons.[137]

May 2016 Zara'a killings and kidnappings[edit]

On 12 May 2016, militants of the Al-Qaeda linked Al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham attacked and captured the Alawite village of Zara'a, Southern Hama Governorate.[138][139] The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed that civilians had been kidnapped[139] and the Red Crescent confirmed that 42 civilians and seven NDF militiamen were killed during the militant attack.[140] Additionally, some pro-Syrian government news sources reported that around 70 civilians, including women and children were kidnapped and taken to Al-Rastan Plains.[138][141] Some of the captured were pro-government troops.[139] A number of houses were destroyed and local property was looted following the rebel capture of the village.[142]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Syria's Ahrar al-Sham Leadership Wiped Out in Bombing". Carnegie Endowment of International Peace. 9 September 2014. Retrieved 10 September 2014. 
  2. ^ Daniel Cassman. "Ahrar al-Sham". stanford.edu. 
  3. ^ http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/etudes/join/2013/457137/EXPO-AFET_ET(2013)457137_EN.pdf
  4. ^ a b "Suicide bombing kills head of Syrian rebel group". The Daily Star. 9 September 2014. Retrieved 9 September 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Competition among Islamists". The Economist. 20 July 2013. Retrieved 9 September 2014. 
  6. ^ a b Lund, Aron (5 October 2012). "Holy Warriors". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 26 December 2012. 
  7. ^ a b "The crowning of the Syrian Islamic Front". Foreign Policy. 24 June 2013. Retrieved 27 June 2013. 
  8. ^ "Syria rebels name slain leader's replacement". Al Jazeera English. 10 September 2014. Retrieved 10 September 2014. 
  9. ^ Lund, Aron (12 September 2015). "Abu Yahia al-Hamawi, Ahrar al-Sham's New Leader". Syria Comment. Retrieved 17 September 2015. 
  10. ^ a b "Report: Airstrikes target another Islamist group in Syria". CNN. 6 November 2014. Retrieved 9 November 2014. 
  11. ^ "Syria Comment  » Archives The Dawn of Freedom Brigades: Analysis and Interview - Syria Comment". Syria Comment. Retrieved 23 May 2016. 
  12. ^ Aron Lund. "Islamist Mergers in Syria: Ahrar al-Sham Swallows Suqour al-Sham". Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Retrieved 23 May 2016. 
  13. ^ a b "Leading Syrian rebel groups form new Islamic Front". BBC. 22 November 2013. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  14. ^ a b "Rebels launch full-on assault of Idlib city". Syria Direct. Retrieved 25 March 2015. 
  15. ^ a b "The biggest rebel factions in Aleppo just formed coalition "Operation Conquest of Aleppo". Source is a facebook video uploaded 20 mins ago by the Syrian Revolution 2011 facebook page. : syriancivilwar". reddit. 
  16. ^ "Participating groups in Halab Aleppo, the coalition organized to fight against YPG/SDF : syriancivilwar". Reddit.com. 16 February 2016. Retrieved 29 March 2016. 
  17. ^ "Twitter". Mobile.twitter.com. 15 February 2016. Retrieved 29 March 2016. 
  18. ^ "Unified Military Command for Ghotta" (PNG). Malcolmxtreme.files.wordpress.com. Retrieved 29 March 2016. 
  19. ^ "The wars of the Eastern Ghouta grind on". The Daily Star Newspaper. 
  20. ^ "Rebel and Islamist groups form (another) op room "Ansar Al-Shariah" to take Aleppo city and its countryside". Reddit. 2 July 2015. Retrieved 2 July 2015. 
  21. ^ "Damascus, East Ghouta - Jabhat al Nusra, Ahrar al Sham, Ajnad al-Sham Islamic Union Have Formed a Joint Operation's Room Named "Jund Al-Malahm" : syriancivilwar". reddit. 
  22. ^ "#SRO INFOGRAPHIC - EXCLUSIVE - Rebellion forces in Hermon Mount area (S-W #Syria) creating the Jaysh al-Haramon.". Twitter. 16 June 2015. Retrieved 4 July 2015. 
  23. ^ "WinningLooksLike comments on FSA, Jabhat a-Nusra ally in north Homs ahead of expected Russian-backed offensive". reddit. 
  24. ^ "Aymenn J Al-Tamimi". Twitter. 
  25. ^ "Homs, Houla, - Militant Announcement of a new "Houla Operations Room" Including atleast [sic] 14 Groups which will be Led by Colonel Mohamed Al-Mohammad "Aims to raise military coordination in the Houla Area." : syriancivilwar". reddit. 
  26. ^ "An operation room in Eastern Ghouta was formed to recapture al Marej area . : syriancivilwar". Reddit.com. 15 December 2015. Retrieved 29 March 2016. 
  27. ^ "Ivan Sidorenko". Twitter. 
  28. ^ "معركة رد المظالم". 
  29. ^ https://www.facebook.com/rd.almzalm/
  30. ^ Zen Adra (18 April 2016). "Field report: Islamist rebels attack Syrian Army in Hama. Map Update". Al-Masdar News. 
  31. ^ "The Army of Islam Is Winning in Syria". Foreign Policy. 
  32. ^ a b c O'Bagy, Elizabeth (2012). Middle East Security Report: Jihad in Syria (PDF). 6. Washington, DC. p. 27. 
  33. ^ Aron Lund (24 September 2013). "New Islamist Bloc Declares Opposition to National Coalition and US Strategy". Syria Comment. Retrieved 25 September 2013. 
  34. ^ "What is the relationship between Nusra Front and Ahrar al Sharqiya , who is Abu Maria al-Qahtani and can we still call Jabhat al-Nusra al Qaeda ? : syriancivilwar". reddit. Retrieved 23 May 2016. 
  35. ^ "Syrian Rebellion Obs". Twitter. Retrieved 23 May 2016. 
  36. ^ "Freedom, Human Rights, Rule of Law: The Goals and Guiding Principles of the Islamic Front and Its Allies". Democratic Revolution, Syrian Style. 17 May 2014. Retrieved 17 May 2014. 
  37. ^ "NGO: Syria jihadists kill rebels in bombing". Al Arabiya. 11 January 2014. Retrieved 12 January 2014. 
  38. ^ "Al Qaeda's chief representative in Syria killed in suicide attack". Long War Journal. 23 February 2014. Retrieved 9 September 2014. 
  39. ^ http://aranews.net/2016/07/kurdish-ypg-forces-combat-islamists-syrias-aleppo/
  40. ^ a b "Syrian rebels call for regional alliance against Russia and Iran". Reuters. 
  41. ^ "Former Guantanamo detainee killed while leading jihadist group in Syria". Long War Journal. 4 April 2014. Retrieved 19 May 2014. 
  42. ^ Jocelyn, Thomas (23 April 2015). "Al Nusrah Front, allies launch new offensives against Syrian regime". Long War Journal. 
  43. ^ Lund, Aron (17 June 2013). "Freedom fighters? Cannibals? The truth about Syria's rebels". London: The Independent. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  44. ^ a b c d e "MAPPING MILITANT ORGANIZATIONS: Ahrar al-Sham". Standford University. Retrieved 14 February 2016. 
  45. ^ "REPORT The Road to a Syria Peace Deal Runs Through Russia". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 14 February 2016. 
  46. ^ a b c "THE SYRIAN OPPOSITION'S POLITICAL DEMANDS". Institute for Study of War. 
  47. ^ a b "TIME Exclusive: Meet the Islamist Militants Fighting Alongside Syria's Rebels". Time. 26 July 2012. Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  48. ^ Blanford, Nicholas (10 October 2013). "Jihadis may want to kill Assad. But is he lucky to have them?". csmonitor.com. Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  49. ^ a b Bar, Herve (13 February 2013). "Ahrar al-Sham jihadists emerge from shadows in north Syria". AFP. Archived from the original on 21 February 2014. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  50. ^ Lund, Aron (March 2013). "Syria's salafi insurgents: The rise of the Syrian Islamic Front" (PDF). Swedish Institute of International Affairs. Retrieved 22 March 2013. 
  51. ^ Spencer, Richard (16 August 2012). "British convert to Islam vows to fight to the death on Syrian rebel front line". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 11 September 2012. 
  52. ^ a b c "Tentative Jihad Syria's fundamentalist opposition" (PDF). International Crisis Group. 12 August 2012. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  53. ^ Abouzeid, Rania (18 September 2012). "Syrian Anti-Assad Rebel Groups Funded by Saudi Arabia, Qatar | TIME.com". Time. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  54. ^ "Going Rogue: Bandits and Criminal Gangs Threaten Syria's Rebellion". Time. 30 July 2012. Retrieved 11 September 2012. 
  55. ^ http://www.aljazeera.net/news/arabic/2015/3/22/%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AF%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%AC-%D8%AD%D8%B1%D9%83%D8%AA%D9%8A-%D8%A3%D8%AD%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B4%D8%A7%D9%85-%D9%88%D8%B5%D9%82%D9%88%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B4%D8%A7%D9%85
  56. ^ a b "Islamist Mergers in Syria: Ahrar al-Sham Swallows Suqour al-Sham". Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. 23 March 2015. Retrieved 26 April 2015. 
  57. ^ "Sham Hawks Brigade split from the Islamic Movement of the Free Levant". Eldorar. 3 September 2016. 
  58. ^ https://twitter.com/hxhassan/status/780843540855328769
  59. ^ Lund, Aron (12 September 2015). "Abu Yahia al-Hamawi, Ahrar al-Sham's New Leader". Syria Comment. Retrieved 1 October 2015. 
  60. ^ El Deeb, Sarah (30 November 2016). "The Latest: Turkey says 2 soldiers missing in Syria". AP. Retrieved 30 November 2016. 
  61. ^ http://en.eldorar.com/node/405
  62. ^ http://eldorar.com/node/102607
  63. ^ Chabkoun, Malak (17 September 2014). "Syrian Revolution's Path after Attacks on Ahrar al-Sham". 
  64. ^ "Syrian rebel leader was bin Laden's courier, now Zawahiri's representative". The Long War Journal. 17 December 2013. Retrieved 18 December 2013. 
  65. ^ a b c d Spencer, Richard (20 January 2014). "Syria's duplicity over al-Qaeda means West will not trust Assad". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  66. ^ Sherlock, Ruth (20 January 2014). "Syria's Assad accused of boosting Al-Qaeda with secret oil deals". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  67. ^ a b "Statement from Zawahiri's representative shows Syrian rebel group tied to al Qaeda". 18 January 2014. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  68. ^ "Syrian rebels seek refuge in religion". Financial Times. 9 August 2012. Retrieved 21 September 2012. 
  69. ^ Talk to Al Jazeera - Hassan Abboud: 'We will fight for our rights'. YouTube. 21 December 2013. 
  70. ^ الجزيرة - لقاء رئيس الهيئة السياسية في الجبهة الإسلامية - Talk To Al Jazeera - YouTube. YouTube. 22 December 2013. 
  71. ^ Talk to Al Jazeera. "Hassan Abboud: 'We will fight for our rights'". aljazeera.com. 
  72. ^ "LiveLeak.com - Talk to Al Jazeera - Hassan Abboud: 'We will fight for our rights' (comments)". liveleak.com. 
  73. ^ Zelin, Aaron Y.; Lister, Charles (24 June 2013). "The Crowning of the Syrian Islamic Front". The Washington Institute. 
  74. ^ John Rossomando. "IPT Exclusive: Jihad-Supporting Imam Raised Millions on U.S. Fundraising Tour". The Investigative Project on Terrorism. 
  75. ^ "حسان عبود.. سلسلة رموز المعارضة المسلحة ج1". aljazeera.net. 
  76. ^ Ghosts of Aleppo (Full Length). YouTube. 30 September 2014. 
  77. ^ "الجبهة الإسلامية on Twitter". Twitter. 
  78. ^ "Jihadists in Syria honor Mullah Omar, praise Taliban's radical state". The Long War Journal. 
  79. ^ Westall, Sylvia (1 August 2015). Lidstone, Digby, ed. "Syrian Islamist group Ahrar al-Sham mourns Taliban leader". Reuters. BEIRUT. 
  80. ^ "Joshua Landis". Twitter. 
  81. ^ "Syrian Islamist rebel group looks to the west". Financial Times. 
  82. ^ 'Syria Talks: Rebel Negotiations In Saudi Arabia Exclude Key Players In Syrian Opposition'. International Business Times, 13 December 2015. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  83. ^ "US and UK suspend non-lethal aid for Syria rebels". BBC News=. 11 December 2013. Retrieved 14 September 2016. 
  84. ^ Mark Landler (9 January 2015). "U.S. Considers Resuming Nonlethal Aid to Syrian Opposition". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 September 2016. 
  85. ^ a b "Syrian Islamists reach out to the U.S., but serious issues remain". Brookings Institution. 
  86. ^ "Gulf allies and 'Army of Conquest". Al-Ahram Weekly. 28 May 2015. 
  87. ^ "Hassan Ridha". Twitter. 
  88. ^ "Hassan Ridha". Twitter. 
  89. ^ "ElDorar AlShamia". Twitter. 
  90. ^ "Private money pours into Syrian conflict as rich donors pick sides". The Washington Post. 15 June 2013. Retrieved 14 April 2016. Ahar al-Sham, considered one of the most radical of the Syrian Islamist militias, recorded a similar public thank-you for $400,000 the group says it received from the same fund. In its Web posting, the group specifically thanked Ajmi and Hajri 
  91. ^ "Gab die Linke der PKK geheime Regierungsdokumente?". DIE WELT. 
  92. ^ "Peter R. Neumann". Twitter. 
  93. ^ The Associated Press (14 September 2016). "Russia Urges Syrian Rebels to Separate From 'Terrorists'". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 September 2016. 
  94. ^ "List of terror groups published by UAE". Gulf News. 16 November 2014. 
  95. ^ Syrian villagers describe massacre by militant group spared from UN terror blacklist (EXCLUSIVE), RT
  96. ^ Chris Tomson (21 January 2016). "Saudi Arabia blocks peace talks on Syria". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 16 February 2016. 
  97. ^ "Daily Press Briefing". U.S. Department of State. 24 May 2016. Retrieved 27 May 2016. 
  98. ^ "Al-Qaeda's Abu Khaled al-Suri killed by suicide bomb in Syria". Dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-08-18. 
  99. ^ Aryn Baker (24 February 2014). "Al Qaeda's Top Envoy Killed in Syria by Rival Rebel Group". Time. Retrieved 14 September 2016. The Syrian-born al-Suri had another role in helping lead one of the most effective fighting groups in Syria today, the Ahrar al-Sham brigade. Officially, Ahrar al-Sham has no affiliation with al-Qaeda, but Zawahiri was able to influence the rebel group’s actions through al-Suri. It was a savvy management move that gave al-Qaeda flexibility on the Syrian front. 
  100. ^ "Russian attempt to blacklist Syria's Islamist rebels blocked". The New Arab. 11 May 2016. Retrieved 14 September 2016. 
  101. ^ Josh Wood. "Syria truce threatened by Nusra's growing acceptance among rebels". The National. Retrieved 14 September 2016. The powerful Islamist group Ahrar Al Sham, a longtime ally of Fatah Al Sham that has recently been in talks about a merger, has also rejected the ceasefire. 
  102. ^ AP. "As Syria truce holds, Al-Qaeda affiliate denounces it". Al Arabiya Network. Retrieved 14 September 2016. A Jabhat Fatah al-Sham commander in the northern province of Aleppo told The Associated Press the group could announce its merger with the ultraconservative Ahrar al-Sham group “in the near future.” He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to speak publicly about the talks. A senior Ahrar al-Sham official also confirmed the talks, adding that such a merger would cover a large number of factions, not just his group. “The merger will not be bilateral.... It is a project to unify the factions on the battlefield. If it holds, all factions will melt into one,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks are ongoing. 
  103. ^ Leith Fadel (9 September 2016). "Ahrar Al-Sham officially rejects Syrian ceasefire". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 14 September 2016. 
  104. ^ a b "Remarks at the Aspen Ideas Festival and Conversation with Walter Isaacson". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 4 September 2016. 
  105. ^ a b "Kerry touts the Russian line on Syrian rebel groups". Retrieved 4 September 2016. 
  106. ^ "Daily Press Briefing - July 12, 2016". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 4 September 2016. 
  107. ^ [1] Germany convicts 4 of supporting terrorist group in Syria By Associated Press October 6 Washington Post
  108. ^ Ravi Somaiya; C. J. Chivers; Karam Shoumali (15 April 2015). "NBC News Alters Account of Correspondent's Kidnapping in Syria". Retrieved 8 December 2015. 
  109. ^ Spencer, Richard. "British convert to Islam vows to fight to the death on Syrian rebel front line". Telegraph. Retrieved 29 March 2016. 
  110. ^ "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. 26 December 2012. Retrieved 9 September 2014. 
  111. ^ Luca, Ana Maria (11 November 2013). "Message from Ayman al-Zawahiri". NOW News. Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  112. ^ Jeremy Binnie (18 August 2013). "Hardline Islamists down Syrian jet with Chinese MANPADS - IHS Jane's 360". Janes.com. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  113. ^ Spencer, Richard (14 November 2013). "Al-Qaeda-linked rebels apologise after cutting off head of wrong person". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  114. ^ "ISIS accidentally beheads allied rebel fighter". Al Bawaba. 14 November 2013. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  115. ^ "تغريدات للشيخ(أبو عبد الملك)شرعي أحرار الشام عن (الجبهة الإسلامية)". Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  116. ^ Barbara Surk (10 December 2013). "Syrian army pounds rebels near Lebanon border". Associated Press. Retrieved 17 December 2013. 
  117. ^ "Avashin ISIS kills number of Ahrar Al Sham… | YALLA SOURIYA". Yallasouriya.wordpress.com. 10 December 2013. Retrieved 17 December 2013. 
  118. ^ "#BREAKING: Intense clashes between #ISIS and Ahrar al-Sham in Maskana town #Aleppo north of #Syria to seize control on Jarah Airport : zaidbenjamin". Inagist.com. 9 December 2013. Retrieved 17 December 2013. 
  119. ^ "Top al-Qaeda operative killed in Syria attack". Al Arabiya. 23 February 2014. Retrieved 24 February 2014. 
  120. ^ "Syria rebels name slain leader's replacement". Al Jazeera English. 9 September 2014. Retrieved 26 April 2015. 
  121. ^ Syrian Civil War: 'At Least 45' Killed as Blast Hits Meeting of Islamist Insurgents International Business Times. 9 September 2014. Retrieved on 2014-09-09.
  122. ^ "AP sources: IS, al-Qaida reach accord in Syria". 13 November 2014. Retrieved 13 November 2014. 
  123. ^ Master. "Negotiations failed between the IS, Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic battalions". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. 
  124. ^ "US-led air strikes hit al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria". Reuters. 6 November 2014. Retrieved 9 November 2014. 
  125. ^ "US-led air strikes on Syria ISIL targets 'kill 1,600'". Al-Jazeera. 23 February 2014. Retrieved 23 February 2014. 
  126. ^ "An Anxious Wait in Syrian City Held by Insurgents". The New York Times. 31 March 2015. 
  127. ^ Master. "The leading figure in Jabhat al- Nusra Abdullah al- Muhaysini calls for the clarion call and promises of heroics in the confrontations between the Russians and Muslims". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. 
  128. ^ "Syrian Rebel Group Ahrar al-Sham Executes Christians in "Liberated" Idlib - PJ Media". PJ Media. 
  129. ^ "Assyrian Observatory: Ahrar al-Sham Movement executes Christian man and son in Syria's Idlib - (MCN)". mcndirect.com. 
  130. ^ "Fateh Haleb Coalition Member Organizations List : syriancivilwar". reddit. 
  131. ^ "7 fighters, including Abu Abdul Rahman Salqeen a leader in Ahrar al-Sham, killed in a Salqeen city". 14 July 2015. Retrieved 15 July 2015. 
  132. ^ "Twin suicide attack kills senior rebel leader in northern Syria". 15 July 2015. Retrieved 15 July 2015. 
  133. ^ Joscelyn, Thomas (25 October 2015). "Al Nusrah Front, Ahrar al Sham, Ajnad al Sham form anti-Russian alliance in Damascus countryside". Long War Journal. 
  134. ^ Rabinovich, Abraham. "Jihadi Factions in Syria Claim to Have Killed Several Russian Officers in Car Bomb Explosion". Free Beacon. Retrieved 14 March 2016. 
  135. ^ "archicivilians on Twitter: "#Syria: Jaysh al-Sunna (+500 fighters) joined Ahrar al-Sham Movement (largest Syrian Opposition Islamist force)."". Twitter. Retrieved 29 March 2016. 
  136. ^ "Syria: armed opposition group committing war crimes in Aleppo - new evidence". Amnesty International UK. 13 May 2016. Retrieved 16 May 2016. 
  137. ^ a b "Syrian opposition forces massacre, kidnap 120 civilians in southern Hama". Al-Masdar News. 12 May 2016. Retrieved 1 June 2016. 
  138. ^ a b c "Rebels seize Alawite village in Syria, abduct civilians: Observatory". Reuters. 12 May 2016. Retrieved 1 June 2016. 
  139. ^ "Islamists agree to hand over corpses of civilians massacred in northern Homs". Al-Masdar News. 24 May 2016. Retrieved 1 June 2016. 
  140. ^ "French MP Condemns 'Moderates' Massacre in Alawite Village in Syria". Sputnik News. 16 May 2016. Retrieved 1 June 2016. 
  141. ^ "International Military Review – Syria, May 13, 2016". South Front. 13 May 2016. Retrieved 1 June 2016. 

External links[edit]