Five rebel factions in the embattled Eastern Ghouta near Damascus have agreed to form a joint military command and to appoint the Islamic Army Commander as the General Chief-of Staff, days after the fall of strategic Mleiha town to Syrian armed forces.
Sources told Zaman al-Wasl that rebels in the neighboring suburbs of the Syrian capital are in desperate need for one military body to halt any possible advance for Bashar Assad’s forces, backed by Lebanese Hezbollah fighters and Shia militias.
The brigades of Ajnad al-Sham, Al-Rahman Legion, Ahrar al-Sham, Alhabib al-Mustafa and the Islamic Army have merged in one armed group called the Unified Military Command in Eastern Ghouta under the leadership of Zahran Alloush.
Allosh, the controversial leader of the Islamic Army, who had been accused of kidnapping prominent activist Razan Zeitouneh with her colleagues from his hometown Douma months ago, is struggling to mobilize all rebels in Eastern Ghouta.
The move toward one armed group, working under the Islamic Army banner, seemed to be prompted by concerns of the growing control of the Islamic Sate (IS), analysts said.
The Islamic Army fears losing territory to the Al-Qaeda splinter group that has captured large swaths of territory in both Syria and Iraq.
Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer