Levant Front

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Levant Front
الجبهة الشامية
Jabhat al-Shamiyah
  • Abu Amr (emir)[1][2]
  • Colonel Muhammad al-Ahmad (spokesman)[3]
  • Muhammad Abu Ibrahim (military commander)[4]
  • Abu Ahmad al-Jazrawi[5]
Dates of operation25 December 2014[6]–18 April 2015;
18 June 2015–present
HeadquartersAzaz, Aleppo Governorate, Syria
Active regionsAleppo Governorate, Syria
IdeologySunni Islamism (mostly)[6][12] Islamic democracy[6] (depending on the member group)[6]
Size3,000[13] (December 2016, Russian military claim)
Part ofFatah Halab[14]
Jaysh Halab[15][16]
Mare' Operations Room[17]
Hawar Kilis Operations Room
Free Syrian Army[18]
Syrian National Army
Allies Turkey
 United States[19]
Sham Legion
Syrian Turkmen Brigades (sometimes)
Syrian opposition Other FSA groups in northern Aleppo
Opponents Syria
Syrian Democratic Forces
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant[20]
Tahrir al-Sham
Liwa Ahfad Saladin
Ahrar al-Sharqiya
Hazzm Movement (March 2015)
Ahrar al-Sham[5]
Battles and warsSyrian Civil War

The Levant Front (Arabic: الجبهة الشامية, romanizedal-Jabhat aš-Šāmiyya, Jabhat al-Shamiyah, also translated as the Sham Front or the Levantine Front)[22] is a Syrian rebel group based around Aleppo involved in the Syrian Civil War.[23] It was formed in December 2014.

The northern branch of the Levant Front is part of the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army. The Netherlands' public prosecutor declared it to be a terrorist organisation in 2018, despite the Dutch government having earlier provided it with support.[24][25]


The Levant Front's membership includes the major Sunni Islamist groups operating in northern Syria, representing a spectrum of ideologies from hardline Salafism to apolitical factions linked to the Free Syrian Army.[6] The group imposes Sharia law where murder and apostasy in Islam are punishable by death. In Aleppo, media activists accusing the Levant Front of corruption and otherwise criticizing the group have received threats and faced reprisal attacks. Courts affiliated with the group have also been accused of summary killings by Amnesty International.[12]


Initial formation[edit]

Following months of negotiations in Turkey and northern Syria between the Islamic Front (mainly the al-Tawhid Brigade), the Army of Mujahideen, the Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement, the Fastaqim Union, Liwa Ahrar Souriya and the Authenticity and Development Front, on 25 December 2014, the factions announced that they combined their forces into a joint command called the Levant Front.[6][26] The US-backed Hazzm Movement joined the coalition on 30 January 2015,[27] and announced its dissolution and merger with into other Levant Front factions on 1 March 2015.[28]

On 20 February 2015, the Levant Front successfully forced Syrian Army forces to retreat from rural towns in Aleppo;[29] during the clashes group claimed to have killed 300 Syrian soldiers and captured 110.[30] During the same month, the group signed an agreement with the YPG and installed Sharia courts in Sheikh Maqsood and Afrin.[31]

Dissolution and reestablishment in 2015[edit]

Mudar al-Najjar, chief of staff of the Levant Front until his resignation on 11 October 2015.[32]

On 18 April 2015, the Levant Front announced its dissolution as an alliance, however it stated that the member factions would continue to coordinate with each other militarily. Reasons behind the split were believed to include a lack of coordination between the groups and increasing defections of its members to other factions.[33][34] Following its end as a single unified group, it continued to act as a joint operations room.[35]

On 26 April 2015, along with other major Aleppo based groups, the Levant Front established the Fatah Halab joint operations room.[14][36]

Between May and June 2015, the Trotskyist Leon Sedov Brigade joined the Levant Front. In June 2016, it largely separated from the group, before completely leaving in October 2016.[37]

The group announced its reactivation on 18 June. Its new leader is Abu Amr, who was an Ahrar ash-Sham commander.[1][2] On 29 June, the Levant Front released their charter.[38]

Since its reactivation on 18 June, the Levant Front operates as a unified group with former members acting as independent groups. Various groups have joined and left the group since its reactivation, such as Abu Amara Battalions and the Thuwar al-Sham Battalions.[39]

SDF offensive against the Levant Front[edit]

On 16 November 2015, the Syrian Democratic Forces announced the formation of its branch in the Aleppo and Idlib governorates. The YPG, YPJ, and the Army of Revolutionaries were the founding members of the coalition.[40] Subsequently, clashes erupted between the SDF and the Levant Front, comprising Ahrar al-Sham, the al-Nusra Front, and the Mare' Operations Room.[5]

On 10 February 2016, the SDF successfully drove out the Levant Front from the Menagh Military Airbase. After days of fierce clashes, the YPG and the Army of Revolutionaries captured a series of villages before reaching and capturing the airbase and the town of Menagh from the Levant Front. According to sources quoted by Reuters, the SDF were supported by Russian airstrikes. The SDF initiated this offensive following the recent Syrian Army offensive on rebel forces in Aleppo supported by Russian airstrikes. The SDF advanced from the Afrin Canton, the westernmost part of Rojava, which had been attacked multiple times by Islamist groups such as the al-Nusra Front. The aim was to prevent attacks on Afrin canton and close the Turkish border to these various Islamist groups.[41][42][43]

Turkish intervention and rebel infighting[edit]

On 24 August 2016, Turkey launched a large-scale military campaign in the northern Aleppo Governorate against both ISIL and the SDF. The Levant Front's northern branch was one of the Syrian National Army factions (SNA) that participated in the operation, which captured Jarabulus, al-Bab, and dozens of other towns in northern Aleppo.[4]

On 24 January 2017, the al-Nusra Front backed by Nour al-Din al-Zenki attacked the Army of Mujahideen and the Levant Front west of Aleppo, defeating both. The former two groups then merged with several other Islamist factions and declared the formation of Tahrir al-Sham.[44] The Levant Front's western Aleppo branch and several other former Levant Front groups, such as the Army of Mujahideen and the Fastaqim Union, joined Ahrar al-Sham.[citation needed]

In July 2017, the Levant Front's northern branch attacked its former ally and co-SNA group, the Descendants of Saladin Brigade, kidnapping its leader and raiding its bases with other SNA units. This followed the Descendants of Saladin Brigade's declaration that it would not take part in a planned Turkish-led offensive against Afrin Canton, which is ruled by the secular, Kurdish-dominated PYD. The Levant Front reportedly justified this operation by claiming that the Descendants of Saladin Brigade's leader Mahmoud Khallo was an al-Qaeda member and allied to the PYD; according to Khallo, the Levant Front tortured him until he was handed over to the Turkish security forces.[45]

Foreign support[edit]

The government of the Netherlands provided materials to the Levant Front as part of a program of non-lethal assistance for 22 rebel groups in Syria from 2015 to 2018. In September 2018, the Dutch public prosecution department declared the Levant Front to be a "criminal organisation of terrorist intent", describing it as a "salafist and jihadistic" group that "strives for the setting up of the caliphate".[24][25]

In an interview an official from the group stated that the Levant Front takes ISIL members and their families captive and will sell them to foreign governments and intelligence agencies for revenue, among the nations listed included the United States and United Arab Emirates, rewards for captured ISIL members are over 10 million USD and the transactions are arranged by brokers and Turkish officials.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Charles Lister [@Charles_Lister] (18 June 2015). "After many internal issues (much funding-related), the #Aleppo-based Jabhat al-Shamiya is officially back. #Syria" (Tweet). Retrieved 23 December 2022 – via Twitter.
  2. ^ a b Charles Lister [@Charles_Lister] (18 June 2015). "PT: Jabhat al-Shamiya's new leader is its former military chief, Abu Amr: Ahrar al-Sham commander & former Sednayya:" (Tweet). Retrieved 23 December 2022 – via Twitter.
  3. ^ Ahmad Zakariyah (16 March 2017). "FSA Commanders confirm the Syrian revolution will continue until achieving its goals". RFS Media Office. Archived from the original on 13 October 2017. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Turkey-backed rebels aim for key ISIS-held town". Now News. 25 August 2016. Archived from the original on 15 January 2017. Retrieved 30 April 2017.
  5. ^ a b c John Davison and Suleiman Al-Khalidi (6 December 2015). "Clashes between Syrian fighters pose challenge for Turkey, U.S." Reuters.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g "The Levant Front: Can Aleppo's Rebels Unite?". Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. 26 December 2014. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
  7. ^ Barić, Joško (8 June 2017). "Syrian War Daily – 8th of June 2017".
  8. ^ "«Brigade Conquest» join the «Front Sham» north of Aleppo (statement)". Qasioun News Agency. 8 March 2017. Archived from the original on 9 March 2017. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  9. ^ ""لواء الفتح" يعلن انضمامه لـ"الجبهة الشامية" في حلب" [The "Fatah Brigade" announces that it joins the Levant Front in Aleppo]. SMART News Agency. 8 March 2017. Archived from the original on 17 May 2019. Retrieved 26 September 2018.
  10. ^ "Turkish tanks and spec ops attack Islamic State forces in Syria". militarytimes.com. 24 August 2016.
  11. ^ "Photographic image" (JPG). Pbs.twing.com. Retrieved 21 October 2021.
  12. ^ a b "Syria: Abductions, torture and summary killings at the hands of armed groups". Amnesty International. 5 July 2016.
  13. ^ "List of armed formations, which joined the ceasefire in the Syrian Arab Republic on December 30, 2016". Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation. 30 December 2016.
  14. ^ a b "The biggest rebel factions in Aleppo just formed coalition "Operation Conquest of Aleppo"". reddit. 26 April 2015.
  15. ^ "Participating groups in Halab Aleppo, the coalition organized to fight against YPG/SDF : syriancivilwar". reddit. 16 February 2016. Retrieved 11 April 2016.
  16. ^ archicivilians [@archicivilians] (16 February 2016). "#Syria: New coalition of the major Opposition forces in #Aleppo, led by Hashim al-Sheikh (former Ahrar Sham leader)" (Tweet). Retrieved 23 December 2022 – via Twitter.
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 6 December 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ "Free Syrian Army – Statement". RFS Media Office. 22 March 2016. Archived from the original on 11 June 2016. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  19. ^ a b Solomon, Erika; Mhidi, Ahmad (8 January 2017). "The black market trade in Isis fighters". Financial Times.
  20. ^ a b "Aleppo's rebels brace for IS assault". Al-Monitor. 16 April 2015. Retrieved 17 April 2014.
  21. ^ "Scores killed as opposition fighters launched new formation in Syria's Aleppo". ARA News. 29 December 2014. Archived from the original on 30 December 2014. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  22. ^ "Syrian rebel groups in Aleppo enter alliance: monitoring group". Reuters. 26 December 2014. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
  23. ^ "KingQajar comments on [ARABIC] Jabhat al-Shamiyah has announced its official dissolution". Reddit. 18 April 2015.
  24. ^ a b "Dutch funded 'jihadist' group in Syria, terror trial may now falter". Dutch News. 11 September 2018. Retrieved 16 September 2018.
  25. ^ a b Holdert, Milena; Dahhan, Ghassan (10 September 2018). "Nederland steunde 'terreurbeweging' in Syrië". Nieuwsuur. Retrieved 16 September 2018.
  26. ^ Arab Newspaper article from Dec 25, 2014 including a picture of the leaders of the Levant Front: الجبهة الشامية تجمع ثوار حلب مع بداية 2015 Archived 2016-09-19 at the Wayback Machine, sirajpress.com
  27. ^ "Hazem Movement joins al- Jabha al- Shameyyah". SOHR. 30 January 2015.
  28. ^ "U.S.-backed Syria rebel group dissolves itself after losses". Reuters Media. 1 March 2015. Archived from the original on 9 December 2018. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  29. ^ "قائد في "حزب الله": قوات النظام ارتكبت مجزرة بحلب والضباط تركونا لوحدنا". alankabout.com. Archived from the original on 25 March 2015.
  30. ^ حلب - أنس الكردي. "العربي الجديد - حلب: المعارضة السورية تحرز تقدماً والنظام يستدعي مقاتلين أجانب". alaraby.
  31. ^ Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi (21 March 2015). "The Administration of the Local Council in Azaz". Syria Comment.
  32. ^ "OCTOBER 12–18, 2015". Aleppo Weekly. Shattuck Center on Conflict, Negotiation and Recovery, Central European University. Recent protests in and near Aleppo, including ones in the eastern part of the city and Tall Refaat, north of Aleppo on the main road to Turkey, contributed to the resignation of Deputy Levant Front leader Mudar Najjar. Najjar wrote in his October 11 resignation that he would "continue the fight along with jihadis and revolutionaries in the struggle for justice and what's good for Syria and Syrians."
  33. ^ "بعد 3 أشهر من تشكيلها .."الجبهة الشامية" بحلب تحلّ نفسها". El Dorar. 19 April 2015. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  34. ^ "Key Islamist group Shamiya Front resolves itself: source". Zaman al-Wasl. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  35. ^ Chester_T_Molester (20 April 2015). "Comments on Jabhat al-Shamiya Operations Room Announces New Offensive on Al-Rashidin, Aleppo". reddit.
  36. ^ "Fateh Haleb Coalition Member Organizations List : syriancivilwar". reddit. 27 April 2015.
  37. ^ Cody Roche (5 December 2017). "The Trotskyist León Sedov Brigade in the Syrian Revolution". Medium. Archived from the original on 21 June 2018. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  38. ^ Ibn Nabih [@IbnNabih1] (29 June 2015). "The Levant Front's charter:
    1) Fall of Regime & ISIS
    2) Establish sovereign Islamic gov
    3) Sharia sole source of law"
    (Tweet). Retrieved 23 December 2022 – via Twitter.
  39. ^ "Syrian Civil War factions". Google Docs. Retrieved 25 May 2016.
  40. ^ Osama Abu Zeid; Maria Nelson (18 November 2015). "15 opposition brigades in Idlib, Aleppo join SDF forces". Syria:direct. Archived from the original on 25 September 2018. Retrieved 30 April 2017.
  41. ^ "YPG Kurds successfully overrun former Syrian airbase". Rudaw. Retrieved 11 April 2016.
  42. ^ "YPG takes control of Menagh Military Airbase and Minîh village". ANF News.
  43. ^ "Kurds, allies seize most of key air base in north Syria: monitor". Retrieved 11 April 2016.
  44. ^ Haytham Mouzahem (17 February 2017). "Will major opposition groups face off in Syria?". Al-Monitor.
  45. ^ Mohammad Abdulssattar Ibrahim; Maria Nelso (23 August 2017). "'Afrin is a red line': Kurdish FSA commander loses his faction after refusing to fight". Syria:direct. Archived from the original on 10 April 2019. Retrieved 23 August 2017.