A number of commanders from the Ahrar al-Sham movement have resigned and joined the new Tahrir al-Sham rebel group, after a number of key Syrian jihadist groups — including Al-Qaeda’s former affiliate Jabhat Fateh al-Sham — merged to form the organization on January 28.
Ahrar al-Sham’s former general commander Abou Hashim al-Sheikh was one of the most prominent commanders to leave the movement. Abou Yusef al-Muhajir, Ahrar al-Sham’s military spokesman, confirmed his resignation from the movement and announced his membership in Tahrir al-Sham.
Commentators circulated news via social media that the former Ahrar al-Sham military commander Abou Saleh Tahan also joined the new formation, in addition to the Ahrar’s former general judge Abou Mohammad al-Sadeq. Both men were said to have resigned from the movement’s ranks to join the new formation.
Speaking to Zaman al-Wasl, Ahmad Kara Ali, the official Ahrar al-Sham spokesperson, commented saying: “None of our military formations have entered under Tahrir al-Sham formation, and the resignation of Hashem al-Sheikh and Abou Yusef al-Muhajir was personal, and their membership previously had been suspended.” Kara Ali did not comment on Sadeq and Tahan’s resignations.
Five factions announced the formation of Tahrir al-Sham over the weekend, including Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, Nour al-Din al-Zenki, Jayish al-Sunna, Liwa al-Haqq, Jabhat Ansar al-Din.
Exclusive sources revealed to Zaman al-Wasl that the commanders of Fateh al-Sham would not lead the new entity in any form, not militarily, or politically, or judicial. The formation will name a new commander from the younger elements of the factions that joined the formation.
Sources close to Ahrar al-Sham believe that the resignation of prominent commanders will eliminate the extremist current in the movement led by Sheikh and Tahan, following deep disputes with most of the movement’s Shura council. The conflict emerged after the Muslim Brotherhood seized control of the movement’s decision-making circles.
The same sources suggested that some Ahrar al-Sham brigades will join the new formation, especially those loyal to Tahan and Sheikh.
Tahrir al-Sham released a statement following the announcement of its founding saying the formation is an attempt to mend the divisions among resistance groups and strengthen opposition to the Assad regime.
This article was edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.