Tahrir al-Sham: Al-Qaeda’s latest incarnation in Syria
The Syrian jihadist group Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS), known as al-Nusra Front until it broke off formal ties with al-Qaeda last July, has merged with four smaller Syrian factions and rebranded itself as “Tahrir al-Sham”.
The new group’s leader has been named as Hashim al-Sheikh, who previously served as the head of the powerful Islamist rebel group, Ahrar al-Sham.
Ahrar al-Sham itself has refused to join the new body and has been at loggerheads with JFS in northern Syria.
On 9 February, al-Shaikh delivered the group’s first leadership message in which he insisted the new entity was independent and not an extension of former organisations and factions.
By reinventing itself again, JFS appears to be trying to distance itself from its al-Qaeda past and embed itself more deeply within the Syrian insurgency.
No mention has been made of JFS leader Abu Mohammed al-Julani in any of the new group’s communications. But he is widely believed to be serving as its military commander.
JFS announced the creation of “Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham” (which translates in English as Liberation of Levant Organisation) in a statement that was released on 28 January via its channel on the messaging app Telegram.
The statement indicated that the groups which had agreed to join would dissolve themselves and “merge fully” into the new entity.
This was further reiterated in al-Shaikh’s recent message which described the new body as a “melting pot for all factions”.
In addition to JFS, Tahrir al-Sham founding groups included: Nur al-Din Zinki Movement (one of the most important opposition factions in Aleppo); jihadist Ansar al-Din Front; the Homs-based Jaysh al-Sunnah; and Liwa al-Haqq (operates in Idlib, Aleppo and Hamah).
The new entity also received the endorsement of six prominent Syria-based jihadist clerics, including the charismatic Saudi-born Abdullah al-Muhaisini. The clerics signed a separate statement announcing their intention to join Tahrir al-Sham.
Since the creation of the new entity, JFS has issued no new propaganda under the JFS brand, suggesting that it has been dissolved.
morphing from one to the other..
“The new group’s leader has been named as Hashim al-Sheikh, who previously served as the head of the powerful Islamist rebel group, Ahrar al-Sham.”
who supplies them with arms and money?..if its the same suppliers as the previous 5 years then all they have done is re-badge..