The remnants of the al-Sharqiyah Martyrs Gathering have joined the ranks of Jaysh al-Izza in the northern Hama countryside, Syrian opposition activists revealed on May 17.
The group was expelled from the occupied area of Afrin last year in a large-scale security operation by several Turkish-backed groups. Back then, the group was accused of corruption. However, many activists said that Ankara wanted to punish the group for launching a unauthorized attack on the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in the village of Tardif.
The al-Sharqiyah Martyrs Gathering is yet to officially confirm joining Jaysh al-Izza. However, the group’s official telegram channel has changed its name to “the al-Sharqiyah Martyrs Brigades – Jaysh al-Izza” and released an official statement with the official logo of al-Izza.
“The al-Sharqiyah Martyrs Brigades declares the alert status … of all fighters … and call on them to immediacy join the frontlines in Hama and Idlib to repel the barbaric aggression of the Assadist regime’s gangs,” the statement reads.
Abu Khula, the leader of the al-Sharqiyah Martyrs Gathering, is known to be a radical figure, similar to Jaysh al-Izza general commander Maj. Jamil al-Saleh. The former SAA officer didn’t only ally Jaysh al-Izza with Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), but he is also known to be a friend of the group’s notorious leader Abu Mohammad al-Julani.
The addition of the al-Sharqiyah Martyrs Gathering will for sure strengthen Jaysh al-Izza. However, the group may be witnessing its final days, as the SAA is rapidly advancing in its last strongholds in northern Hama.