The Washington Post: On Tuesday, a single event happened that could change the course of the the Syrian war. At least a dozen commanders of Ahrar al-Sham, including leader Hassan Aboud, were wiped out in an instance by what has been described as a suicide bomb during a high-level meeting in Ram Hamdan in Syria’s Idlib province.
Less than 24 hours after the explosion, the group announced new leaders, but relatively little is known about them. In a video, its new leadership announced that the group will continue on the same course as before.
Analysts have their doubts, however, on whether that will be true – or even if Ahrar al-Sham can survive at all. “This will be a turning point of sorts,” Syrian journalist and analyst Hassan Hassan tweeted shortly after the news spread.
Could one explosion really change the Syrian war?
Formed in 2011 by former Islamist prisoners – including a number of al-Qaeda alumni – Ahrar al-Sham pushed a Salafist agenda and called for a Sunni Islamist state, but steered clear of calls for a global jihad and focused on the Syrian state. Over the course of the Syrian civil war, the group (whose name means “The Free Men of Syria”) gained a reputation as one of the strongest and best organized forces among the rebel groups. [Continue reading…]