Why we should care about Ahrar al-Sham's statement supporting Turkey's free zone

Published August 12th, 2015 - 12:20 GMT
Ahrar al-Sham was founded in late 2011 and became a force on the Syrian battlefield in 2012. Here a member is seen firing during clashes in the Raqqa province. (AFP/Alice Martins)
Ahrar al-Sham was founded in late 2011 and became a force on the Syrian battlefield in 2012. Here a member is seen firing during clashes in the Raqqa province. (AFP/Alice Martins)

Syrian rebel group Ahrar al-Sham on Tuesday came out with a statement supporting Turkey's plans to make a Daesh-free zone in northern Syria. And while this may not be a total surprise coming from the pro-Turkey group, it's still pretty significant.

Not all rebel groups are supportive of the 68-mile Daesh-free zone, which media outlets have reported as "ill-defined." Al-Nusra Front rejected it and said it would withdraw from the front lines against Daesh (ISIS) in the area, unwilling to support Turkey.

Ahrar al-Sham is a close ally of Nusra. The group has coordinated with the al-Qaeda affiliate on the battlefield for three years and was founded by al-Qaeda members.

But it's not the first time there have been tensions between the groups. Nusra members' fight in Idlib in July pitted the group directly against the Ahrar al-Sham Islamic Movement, a party that dominated Nusra's rival Sharia authority, al-Monitor reported.

The question now is whether Turkey's new plans could be a more serious division in rebel alliances, and how that may affect the opposition's fight against Daesh and regime fighters going forward.

Here's Ahrar al-Sham's full statement translated in English:

By Hayat Norimine


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