On September 27, Jaysh al-Islam leader Essam al-Buwaydhani confirmed in an interview with the Reuters news agency that his group has joined the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA). According to al-Buwaydhani, Jaysh al-Islam is currently reorganizing and rearming.
The group, which withdrew from the region of Eastern Ghouta last April, is also building a town with a school, a mosque, a clinic and around 1,400 houses for the displaced families of its fighters. Al-Buwaydhani claimed that local businessmen are founding the new town, which is located 15km north of the city of al-Bab in northern Aleppo.
In the interview, al-Buwaydhani also vowed to return to Eastern Ghouta and even to topple the Damascus government. A goal that he and his group failed to achieve during the last seven years despite that they were holding positions few kilometers away from the capital and receiving massive support from the West.
“It is not impossible that Assad falls, especially given that the opposition forces are gathered today in one place,” al-Buwaydhani told Reuters.
Last month, the Syrian pro-opposition news outlet Enab Baladi reported that Jaysh al-Islam is building military bases and camps in the northern Aleppo countryside and buying weapons from Turkish-backed groups. Back then, observers said that the group may be planing to push its remaining fighters in any new armed conflict on the hopes of collecting more money from Turkey.
Jaysh al-Islam is infamous for kidnapping, torturing and executing hundreds of civilians, including opposition activists. The group leadership also made millions by stealing from their backers and collecting taxes from the besieged civilians in Eastern Ghouta.