The Ahrar al-Sham Movement, which stood once as one of the largest rebel factions in Syria, appears to be nearing its end.
On August 7, four of the movement’s largest units, the Badr Brigade, al-Abbas Brigade, al-Sharqi Groups and Aleppo Gathering, announced their defection. In a joint statement, the four units revealed that they left Ahrar al-Sham on July 17.
The units joined the al-Shamiya Front, one of the largest Turkish-backed groups and a member of the Syrian National Army.
Last year, a series of internal conflicts wreaked the movement, which ruled over vast parts of Syria in the early years of the war.
The movement’s leader, back then, Jaber Ali Basha had a fall out with Inad Darwish, “Abu al-Munzier,” the commander of the military wing and Hassan Soufan, a former commander, who wanted greater coordination with al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahir al-Sham (HTS).
Soufan and Darwish launched a campaign to sack Basha and his affiliates with direct support of HTS, the de-facto ruler of Greater Idlib. The mutinous seized many of Ahrar al-Sham’s headquarters and positions in the region.
A “power-sharing” agreement was later reached. Abu Yahiya al-Hamui, also known as “al-Qalaa,” was appointed as the new Commander-in-Chief of the movement.
Nevertheless, Soufan and Darwish maintained strong influence within Ahrar al-Sham. The two became to be seen by many of the movement’s commanders, fighters and supporters as a front for HTS and its leader, Abu Mohamad al-Julani.
HTS, which fought Ahrar al-Sham on several occasions in the past, appears to be now in control of what’s left of the movement in Greater Idlib.
The Ahrar al-Sham Movement has lost most of its commanders, fighters and supporters. Even the movements’ ideology and principles were changed last year to appease HTS. It is safe to say that today only the name of the movement is still alive. Even the name will not likely stand for too long.
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