38 Facts About Ahrar al-Sham


On 18 February 2018, Ahrar al-Sham merged with the Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement to form the Syrian Liberation Front.

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Ahrar al-Sham has joined forces with other groups in the conflict in their opposition to the Assad regime in Syria.

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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.

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Aboud said Ahrar al-Sham worked with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in some battles, but that their agenda was disagreeable.

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Ahrar al-Sham said all parties, whether they were ISIL, al-Nusra, the Islamic Front, or the FSA, shared the same objective of establishing an Islamic state, but they differed as to the "tactics, strategies or methods".

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In May 2016, Ahrar al-Sham released an address by then deputy general director Ali al-Omar in which he distinguished Ahrar al-Sham's militancy from the Salafi jihadism of al-Qaeda and ISIL, and defended its political engagement.

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Ahrar al-Sham held strong ties to Syria's Arab tribes in the south and recruited several tribesmen from southern Syria into the group.

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In 2013, during the opposition's offensive in Raqqa, Ahrar al-Sham established a local affiliate known as Brigade of the Trustees of Raqqa, the brigade acted as a law enforcement unit in Raqqa and cooperated with local Islamic courts in enforcing Sharia law, and reportedly beat an individual in the city per the ruling of a local court.

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An internal faction of Ahrar al-Sham, known as the Ashidaa Mujahideen Brigade, led by Abu al-Abd Ashidaa had flogged individuals for not attending Friday prayers.

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Ahrar al-Sham can be described as Jihadist Salafis whose definition of Jihad is one of active war fighting.

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Ahrar al-Sham started forming units just after the Egyptian revolution of January 2011, and before the Syrian uprising started in March 2011.

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At the time of its establishment in December 2011, Ahrar al-Sham consisted of about 25 rebel units spread across Syria.

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On 23 January 2012, the Ahrar al-Sham Battalions was officially announced in the Idlib Governorate.

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Ahrar al-Sham cooperates with the Free Syrian Army; however, it does not maintain ties with the Syrian National Council.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Ahrar al-Sham claimed responsibility on their website alleging "dozens" of casualties among Russian officials.

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Ahrar al-Sham was praised by Tawfiq Shahabuddin, leader of the Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement, in October 2016.

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In September 2015: In collaboration with Jabhat al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham overtook an Assad regime stronghold, the Abu al-Zuhur military air base in Idlib governorate.

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Autumn 2015: In alliance with Jabhat al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham was involved in offensives in Northern Aleppo against ISIS and in Southern Aleppo against Assad regime forces.

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Spring 2016: Ahrar al-Sham was involved in heavy fighting with other Anti-ISIS rebel forces in Eastern and Western Ghouta and in the Dar'a region in southern Syria.

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On 21 January 2017, five factions from Ahrar al-Sham reportedly left to join al-Nusra Front: Jaysh al-Ahrar al-Sham, al-Bara, Dhu Nurayn, al-Sawa'iq and Usud al-Har Battalion.

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Ahrar al-Sham was killed in Idlib's Sarmada region by a drone strike.

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Ahrar al-Sham accused the Rahman Legion of seizing their weapons, while the Rahman Legion accused Ahrar al-Sham of their attempt to implement their "failed" experience from northern Syria in eastern Ghouta.

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On 22 June 2018, an Ahrar al-Sham commander was assassinated in al-Bab by gunmen believed to be part of the Hamza Division.

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Ahrar al-Sham is one of the best-armed and most powerful rebel factions active in the Syrian Civil War.

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Ahrar al-Sham grew significantly by absorbing into its ranks other rebel factions from the Islamic Front and the Syrian Islamic Front which preceded it.

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Ahrar al-Sham even has a technical division devoted to cyber attacks.

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Ahrar al-Sham generally welcomes foreign fighters without demanding too much of them.

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Ahrar al-Sham encourages foreign fighters to arrive unmarried, committed to stay with the organization for six months, and prepared to pay in advance for their stay and their own weapon.

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Ahrar al-Sham is not designated a terrorist organization by the U S State Department, the United Nations, or the European Union.

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The U S Department of State has said that "Ahrar al-Sham is not a designated foreign terrorist organization".

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Ahrar al-Sham had worked with ISIL until the two groups began their present-day hostilities with one another in January 2014.

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In one instance, a commander affiliated with the Syrian Revolutionaries Front, claimed that the Islamic Front, which Ahrar al-Sham was a principle and founding member of, was more extreme than al-Nusra, and would eventually become a second ISIL.

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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 a suicide car bomb attack believed to be carried out by ISIL, though the attack was denied by ISIL, helping to lead Ahrar al-Sham 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.

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Pro-government media reported that 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 the al-Nusra Front, which was one of the groups excluded from this ceasefire.

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However, since late 2016, Al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham have been increasingly rivalrous, with military clashes between them taking place in the Idlib Governorate in January–March 2017 and July 2017.

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