Tag Archives: Suqour al-Sham

Al-Qaeda Reshapes the Insurgency in Northern Syria

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on February 7, 2017

Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham logo

A series of clashes broke out on 19 January between al-Qaeda’s rebranded Syrian branch, Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (JFS), and its heretofore close ally and portal into the Syrian rebellion, Ahrar al-Sham. By 23 January, JFS had expanded its targets, engaging in hostilities with mainstream rebel groups in the “Greater Idlib” area, and specifically trying—and succeeding—in dismantling the positions of Jaysh al-Mujahideen, a moderate group, west of Aleppo. The crisis continued to escalate, forcing many groups to merge with Ahrar al-Sham for protection, until 28 January, when a JFS-led merger was announced under the banner of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), or the Syrian Liberation Committee. HTS announced a ceasefire, and since then individuals and groups—including a significant number from Ahrar—have given allegiance to HTS. This radical reshaping of revolutionary dynamics in northern Syria has undoubtedly created antibodies going forward against al-Qaeda that could be capitalized on by the international community, but the present situation is highly favourable to al-Qaeda. Continue reading

Turkey and Saudi Arabia Move Against Assad

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on May 5, 2015

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Zahran Alloush, Abu Issa, Hashem al-Sheikh

An effort is underway, led by Saudi Arabia and Turkey, mediated by Qatar, to unify the largest Syrian Islamist rebel brigades. With these regional powers now seemingly reading from the same script after years of internecine competition that has fractured the Syrian rebellion, there is also talk of a direct Saudi-Turkish intervention in Syria to overthrow Bashar al-Assad. While increased support to the Syrian insurgency from the Gulf and Turkey is already arriving, a direct intervention seems unlikely, though not, in the current context after the Saudi-led coalition went it alone in Yemen, impossible.  Continue reading

Defeat Jihadists in Syria by Being a Better Ally to the Opposition

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on March 25, 2015

A still  from the video announcing the Ahrar a-Sham-Suqour a-Sham merger

A still from the video announcing the Ahrar a-Sham-Suqour a-Sham merger

Ahrar a-Sham “merged with“—in reality annexed—Suqour a-Sham on March 22. Ahrar’s leader, Hashem al-Sheikh (a.k.a. Abu Jabbar), is the leader of the Ahrar-Suqour formation, and Suqour’s leader, Ahmed Issa al-Sheikh (a.k.a. Abu Issa) is his deputy. Ahrar is the largest and most hardline Syrian insurgent group in Syria, and Suqour has a fairly stern Salafi-nationalist ideology—at least at its leadership level—and was once the largest rebel group in Idlib Province.

The first thing this brought to mind was Sam Heller’s witticism late last year: “the most successful, lasting approach to rebel unification so far has basically been ‘Ahrar al-Sham absorbs you’.” Continue reading

Are Syria’s Rebels Being Sacrificed To Al-Qaeda For Obama’s Détente With Iran?

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on November 6, 2014

SRF leader Jamal Marouf

SRF leader Jamal Marouf

What a disaster. With American and coalition jets in the air overhead, ostensibly to do battle with Salafi-jihadists, al-Qaeda has been allowed to push rebel brigades the United States purports to support out of almost all of Idlib Province. Continue reading

What Now For Ahrar a-Sham?

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on September 10, 2014

Ahrar a-Sham's leader, Hassan Abboud

Ahrar a-Sham’s leader, Hassan Abboud

 

A mysterious explosion decapitated the Syrian rebel group Ahrar a-Sham on September 9. This could have major implications for the rebellion as a whole.
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What Role Do The Palestinians Play In The Jihad In Syria And Iraq?

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on September 6, 2014

Notification from Ibn Taymiyya Media Center's Facebook page on the "martyrdom" of Gazan Muhammad Ahmed Qanitah (March 2013)

Notification from Ibn Taymiyya Media Center’s Facebook page on the “martyrdom” of Gazan Muhammad Ahmed Qanitah (March 2013)

On August 11, Jamaat Ansar ad-Dawla al-Islamiya fi Bayt al-Maqdis (The Group of the Supporters of the Islamic State in Jerusalem), released a “martyrdom” notice for “the mujahid brother” Mahmoud Nayef al-Qayrnawi (Abu al-Bara) of Gaza, who was killed by the regime on July 26 while fighting for the Islamic State (I.S.) at the Sha’ar gas field in Homs.

This is not the first Gazan jihadist killed in Syria. Continue reading

Syria’s Rebellion on the Ropes

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on July 9, 2014

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The devastated city of Aleppo

As we approach the forty month mark for the Syrian uprising the situation is grimmer than it has ever been. Not just the casualties: more than 200,000 people dead. Not just the physical devastation and mass-displacement of more than a third of the country. But now in military terms the rebellion is on the defensive in a way it has not been since it erupted at the end of 2011, after more than six months of peaceful protests.

Continue reading