Syria’s most powerful opposition groups unite

Jamestown Foundation: The leaders of seven Syrian militant Islamist armed opposition groups announced the formation of al-Jabhat al-Islamiya (Islamic Front) on November 22 with the stated purpose of uniting their disparate fighting groups into one coalition. The coalition has a strategy to present a popular political alternative to President Bashar al-Assad’s government, militarily defeat the al-Assad regime and establish an Islamic state in Syria. Al-Jabhat al-Islamiya includes several of the most powerful Syrian armed opposition groups currently fighting in the country’s civil war, including Harakat Ahrar al-Sham al-Islamiya (Islamic Movement of the Free Ones of the Levant); Liwa al-Islam (Islamic Brigade); Alwiya Suqur al-Sham (Hawks of the Levant Brigades); and Liwa al-Tawhid (Divine Unity Brigade). Three other armed opposition groups, Liwa al-Haqq (Divine Truth Brigade), Ansar al-Sham (Partisans of the Levant) and Jabhat al-Akrad al-Islamiya (Kurdish Islamic Front) have also joined the coalition. [1] Combined, the constituent fighting groups within al-Jabhat al-Islamiya are believed to have as many as 50,000 fighters (Janes Terrorism & Insurgency Centre, November 24). The armed opposition groups that are forming the coalition are actively engaged against the al-Assad government throughout Syria, particularly in and around the northwestern governorates of Idlib and Aleppo, in the central western governorates of Homs and Hama and in Damascus and its suburbs (al-Jazeera, November 22).

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