Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) announced the graduation of a first batch from the military college in Idleb, in the presence of HTS leader Abu Muhammad al-Julani and head of the Salvation Government (the civilian and administrative arm of the HTS) Ali Kadda.
The official channel of the Military College in Idleb published on YouTube a video of the graduation ceremony of what it said was the first batch from the college. The course name was “Martyr Commander (Abu Omar Saraqeb)”.
The course graduated 400 military officers from HTS, Ahrar al-Sham, Jaish al-Nasr, Jaish al-Izza, and other factions after undergoing intensive “doctrinal and physical” courses for six months.
The graduation ceremony included a display of infantry and cavalry officers, as well as a nearby martial arts parade. It ended with the honouring of the outstanding members in the first graduation course at the Military College in Idleb.
The first session was attended by a large number of military commanders from various factions and military formations operating in the areas controlled by HTS, in addition to ministers and figures from the Salvation Government and the speaker of the Shura Council.
According to the supervisors, graduates of the first batch required certain criteria to be admitted to the military college. These criteria are medical, ethical, and cultural conditions, in addition to educational achievement —which is the applicant obtaining a high school diploma.
The Salvation Government published a statement, on March 17th, 2021, stipulating the formation of a military college linked to the Prime Minister directly, provided that it has material and administrative independence. The statement did not name a public official, as the Salvation Government hopes that the military college will be the beginning of ending the factional names in Idleb.
Who is Abu Omar Saraqeb?
Abu Omar Saraqeb, also known as Abu Hajer al-Homsi, was killed on September 9th, 2016, by an airstrike – reportedly by the international coalition – targeting him in the countryside of Aleppo, during the battles to lift the siege of Aleppo.
According to sources for Syria TV, the real name of Abu Omar Saraqeb, also known as Abu Ahmed al-Banshi, is Osama Namoura, who hails from the city of Binnish in rural Idleb. He was previously a student officer at the regime’s Assad Academy of Military Engineering in Aleppo.
The sources added that Namoura, commander-in-chief of Jaish al-Fatah (formerly the largest and most powerful concentration of factions in northern Syria), was a hardline military commander with “an extremist takfiri ideology.”
According to local sources, Namoura was part of the Abu Musab al-Zarqawi group in Iraq. He was arrested there in 2003, before escaping prison, without accurate information about it. During the outbreak of the Syrian revolution, he co-founded the al-Nusra Front in the western Qalamoun area of rural Damascus, before its name changed to Jabhat Fatah al-Sham. He then participated in many attacks against groups of the Free Syrian Army.
It is noteworthy that the HTS headquarters includes in its ranks many groups trained as special forces, most notably the Red Leagues, which participated in fierce battles in the northern countryside of Hama and southern Idleb, in 2019. This is in addition to the General Security Agency, which serves as an intelligence service affiliated with HTS in all areas of its control.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.