On February 27, seven al-Qaeda-affiliated groups announced in a official statement that they are merging their forces to form a new armed group in northern Syrian. The group will be named “Horas al-Din”.
According to the Syrian pro-opposition news outlet Enab Baladi, the groups involved into this effort are Jaysh al-Malahem, Jaysh al-Badiyah, Jaysh al-Sahel, Saraya al-Sahel, Saryat Kabul Jun al- Sharia and cells of Jund al-Aqsa.
Horas al-Din will be led by “Abu Humam al-Shami”, a former general commander of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), according to Enab Baladi. The media outlet also said that many prominent figures of al-Qaeda, including “Abu Jalibib Tubas”, “Abu Khadiga al-Ordini”, “Sami al-Aridi”, “Abu Qassam”, “Abu Adulrahman al-Maki” and many former commanders of HTS, had joined Horas al-Din.
The official statement of Horas al-Din was focused on the current situation in the East Ghouta pocket. The new group called on all sides to move to support the besieged militants in the area.
The newly formed al-Qaeda-affiliated group also called for an end for the ongoing armed conflict between HTS and the Syrian Liberation Front (SLF) in northern Syria.
Opposite to what Horas al-Din’s statement says, some experts believe that al-Qaeda in Syria is taking advantage of the current weakness of HTS and the battle of East Ghouta to expand its influence in northern Syria. Thestrategic goal of them move is to make an attempt establish an ISIS-like “Islamic state” in northern Syria.