Differences within Ahrar al-Sham are widening between its official leadership, Amer al-Sheikh (Abu Obeida), and the blocs that suspended their work nearly two months ago and announced the appointment of Youssef al-Hamawi (Abu Suleiman) as the movement’s leader.
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Four factions in Ahrar al-Sham Movement: the Omar al-Farouk Brigade/Idleb al-Medina, the Fajr al-Islam Brigade/Kafruma, the Ahmed Assaf/Binnish Brigades, and the Ansar al-Haq Brigade/Maarat al-Nu’man announced the suspension of their work within the movement, due to what they said was “the leadership’s policy in dealing with the movement’s members and rejecting advice.”
According to information obtained by the Syria TV website, military groups from the factions that have recently suspended their work support the new commander Abu Suleiman. These groups, estimated to be 300 fighters from Idleb, Maarat al-Numan, Binnish and the town of Kafruma, include most of the elite forces in Ahrar al-Sham.
With the addition of these blocs to the brigades that had previously suspended their work, 80 percent of the elite forces, which are the spearhead and de facto force of Ahrar al-Sham, are outside the authority of Amer al-Sheikh. With the accession of the new forces, about 60 percent of the entire movement’s strength, will become supportive of its new leader, Abu Suleiman, with expectations that new numbers will declare their affiliation with him.
The new blocs operate within the ranks of the Southern Brigade stationed on the Jabal al-Zawiya front south of Idleb, in addition to the presence of accompanying tasks for Turkish patrols entrusted to the brigade itself.
Sources told Syria TV that after the new groups suspended their work, the Southern Brigade was considered out of service and unable to carry out the tasks assigned to it, as only about 200 fighters remained inside the brigade, which was not enough to fill the gaps occupied by the brigade.
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.