RCC members say that several months of preparations went into the latest “unity” announcement.
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The latest announcement of a broad coalition of rebel groups, calling itself the Revolutionary Command Council, is a clear sign of rising Islamist influence in opposition-controlled northern Syria – particularly that of Salafist group Ahrar al-Sham.Notably, the new alliance excludes the Nusra Front, Al-Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, and some hard-line Islamist groups active in the north, such as Nusra's close ally Jund al-Aqsa.A Syrian observer who asked to remain anonymous in order to speak freely said that on the surface, the new group brings together key elements of the FSA and Islamist rebel militias.Ahrar al-Sham also enjoys good ties to the Nusra Front.Early last month, Nusra led an offensive against the FSA groups, taking advantage of the unpopularity of Jamal Maarouf, the head of the Syria Rebel Front.Another member, Suqour al-Sham, has been hurt by defections to Ahrar al-Sham, although the leaders of the former group deny this.
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