Ahrar al-Sham Islamic Movement, the small battalions who became the most powerful Rebellion group in Syria | archicivilians
Ahrar al-Sham It was one of the first armed groups to be formed at the beginning of the armed revolution in Syria in early 2011. Ahrar al-Sham is a Sunni Islamic movement, formed by Hassan Aboud. Hassan Aboud was born in al-Ghab plain in the north west of Hamah province in northern Syria. He used to be an English teacher and an Islamic scholar before he was detained by the Syrian Baathism Regime. At the beginning of the Syrian revolution, Hassan was released from Saidnaya Prison in northern Damascus after the general presidential pardon for all crimes committed before June 20, 2011. Later, Ahrar al-Sham movement under Hassan Aboud has been rising as one of the most powerful armed groups, independent from the Free Syrian Army.
*Note: Most of the Syrian Rebellion groups (including Jaysh al-Islam factions, The Levantine Front factions and others) were all under the Free Syrian Army command.
Ahrar al-Sham participated in many battles in northern Syria since they have strong presence in Hamah and Idlib provinces. They used to be one of the most powerful groups in eastern Syria (Raqqah, Hasakah and Deir Ezzor provinces) before the rise of Daesh (Islamic State organization). Ahrar al-Sham movement has formed the Islamic Front with other Rebel groups including Jaysh al-Islam, Suqour al-Sham Brigades, Tawhid Brigade and other groups. Local activists who have very close relations with the Islamic Front Rebels said that it was a failed step, since there is no real unity between those groups who agreed to form the Islamic Front in November of 2013.
In September 2014, a bomb attack targeted Ahrar al-Sham top leaders while they were meeting in Ram Hamdan city in Idlib province, killing more than 40 leaders including Hassan Aboud, the head of Ahrar al-Sham. It was a historical event in the Syrian war, the majority said that Ahrar al-Sham movement is over and their fighters will end up joining the other Rebellion groups. Hashim al-Sheikh was chosen to be the head of Ahrar al-Sham after the death of Hassan Aboud, they announced that they will complete as they started and will reach their main goals as they seek for the liberation of Syria by fighting the Baathism Regime and Daesh (Islamic State organization) till the end.
At the end of 2014, Ahrar al-Sham led the battle of Hamidiyah military camp in participation with Nusra Front who led the battle of Wadi al-Dayf military camp, taking control of those two military camps (with all the villages in the area) which were known as the largest military camps in northern Syria.
In the December 2014, two major groups from the Islamic Front (al-Haqq Brigade and the Kurdish Islamic Front) announced to join Ahrar al-Sham movement. Suqour al-Sham Brigades also announced to join Ahrar al-Sham in March of 2015, yet Ahrar al-Sham has been one of the largest groups in Syria, with a size of more than 25,000 fighters.
It was a major change in March 2015 when Ahrar al-Sham with participation with other six groups (including Faylaq al-Sham and Nusra Front) formed Jaysh al-Fateh military operations room and were able to take the provincial capital of Idlib in less than 4 days, to be the second provincial capital out of Assad rule since the beginning of the war in Syria.
After 4 years of the war in Syria, Ahrar al-Sham proved to be rising as one of the most powerful groups in Syria, as they have strong presence in 10 out of 14 provinces in the country. Ahrar al-Sham owns large amount of military equipment (mostly seized from the military bases in Syria) and fighters. At the same time, Ahrar al-Sham has very good relations with all groups in Syria, as activists said that they are very welcomed by civilians to control the populated areas, mainly in northern Syria.