Middle East

Ahrar al-Sham merges with Islamist militia

BEIRUT: Two leading Islamist militias in Syria announced Sunday that they would merge into a single faction, now considered one of the most powerful in the north.

Leaders from the Ahrar al-Sham and Suqour al-Sham militias made the announcement in a video statement, which they said coincided with the recently commemorated fourth anniversary of the outbreak of the uprising and reflected a step in line with grass-roots calls for rebel “unity.”

The group will retain the name Ahrar al-Sham, signaling how the Salafist group has become one of the most powerful and largest Islamist militias in northern Syria.

Ahrar al-Sham was part of the seven militias that formed the Islamic Front alliance in November 2013 while approximately one year later, two of the groups, the Haqq Brigades and the Kurdish National Front, announced they had joined Ahrar al-Sham.

The move by Suqur al-Sham, which observers said had been in decline in the last two years, means that four of the original seven Islamic Front members are now part of Ahrar al-Sham.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 23, 2015, on page 5.




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