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January 27, 2014 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1060

The Islamic Front – A Rising Force In Syria

January 27, 2014 | By R. Green
Syria | Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1060

Recently, following prolonged contacts between them, the Islamist organizations in Syria managed to unite and announced the establishment of the "Islamic Front," currently viewed as the strongest rebel group in Syria. The founding of the new front was proclaimed on November 22, 2013 in a video aired on the Al-Jazeera network, in which Sheikh Ahmad Abu 'Issa Al-Sheikh, the chairman of the front's Shura Council, read out a joint statement by all the front leaders.

The Islamic Front is comprised of the following organizations: Ahrar Al-Sham,[1]Jaysh Al-Islam,[2] Suqqour Al-Sham,[3] Liwa Al-Tawhid,[4] Ansar Al-Sham[5] and Liwa' Al-Haqq.[6] The head of the Kurdish Islamic Front was also present at the founding declaration, but eventually his organization did not sign on the front's covenant.

The front presents itself as more moderate than the global Islam groups active in Syria, namely the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Jabhat Al-Nusra (aka Al Qaeda in Syria), which are indeed absent from its ranks.


The leaders of the front's member-organizations.
Center: Suqqour Al-Sham leader Ahmad Abu 'Issa Al-Sheikh announces the front's establishment

Background

The formation of the front was prompted by the Syrian opposition's distress, which is a product of several factors: The rebel forces identified with the loose framework of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) have remained divided and have failed to forge a force capable of withstanding the advance of the forces supporting the Assad regime; the forces identified with global jihad, primarily ISIS and Jabhat Al-Nusra, are getting stronger and taking over Syria's liberated regions; disappointment with the United States, which refrained from intervening and providing tangible support in the form of weapons and gear and balked at launching an attack in response to the use of chemical weapons, sufficing instead with signing an agreement to dismantle the regime's chemical arsenal.


The Islamic Front's logo with the logos of the front's member-organizations

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