Opposition sources revealed the defection of 19 armed groups from Ahrar al-Sham during the last days as a result of its tensions with Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). According to the sources, 15 groups joined HTS, while 4 groups remained neutral.
The Assoud al-Maa’ra battalion in the southern countryside of Idlib, the Al-Shaheed Yusef Jaabas company, the Ahrar al-Sham battalion in Al-Rami village, the Osama bin Zaid company in Talimnas town, the Al-Fatah Brigade in Kafrnubal city, the Maardebsah Regiment, the Khatab Battalion, the Ahrar al-Sham battalion in Marayyan village, the Al-Farouk company in Khan Sobul village, the Al-Hujra Brigade in the eastern countryside of Sarakib city, the Ajnad al-Sham Brigade and Dawn of Islam in the Idlib countryside were among the armed groups defected from Ahrar al-Sham and joined HTS.
The Abna’ al-Islam Battalion also defected from Ahrar al-Sham and joined HTS after signing a ceasefire agreement between the two sides.
The Desert Sector, which has more than 7000 fighters, is the largest group that defected from Ahrar al-Sham and joined HTS.
Furthermore, the leader of the Nusrat al-Islam battalion in Maasran town and the leader of Ahrar al-Sham Movement in Al-Dana city also announced defection from Ahrar al-Sham Movement and joining HTS.
The Ahrar al-Rami battalion in Al-Zawiyah mountain defected along with Ahrar Urm Battalion in Ariha and Yousef Jaabas company in the Al-Zawiyah mountain and the Al-Iman brigade. However, these four groups remained neutral.
On Saturday, Ahrar al-Sham attacked a mortars workshop in Idlib city, after the workshop declared its defection from Ahrar al-Sham and joined HTS. However, Ahrar al-Sham was unable to recapture it.
Recent battles have severely weakened Ahrar al-Sham in the province of Idlib. According to opposition sources, the tensions in the province are ongoing despite the ceasefire agreement.
HTS may soon or later launch a final attack to end the presence of Ahrar al-Sham Movement in Idlib province once and for all.