On November 22, 2013, after months of negotiations, the biggest merger so far between Islamic resistance forces in Syria was announced. The name for the new coalition is Jabhat al-Islamiyya or The Islamic Front. The groups included in this massive new coalition are Harakat Ahrar as-Sham, Suqur as-Sham, Liwa at-Tawhid, (the recently formed) Jaysh al-Islam, Jabhat al-Kurdiyya, Liwa al-Haqq and Ansar as-Sham.
In this video the group was announced:
Here is an interview with the group’s leader Abu Issa as-Sheikh ( see @aleesa71 on Twitter) after the Islamic Front’s formation:
The group’s logo:
The group also published an overview of the flags and logo’s of it’s members:
this graph shows the former interdependencies of the groups involved:
The same day The Syrian Islamic Front (SIF), which was formed in December 2012, was dissolved by Harakat Ahrar as-Sham’s Hassan Abboud in favor of the new Islamic Front:
بيان صادر عن قيادة الجبهة الإسلامية السورية بحل (الجبهة الإسلامية السورية) وانتقالها لمكوِّن أشمل (الجبهة الإسلامية
الجبهة الإسلامية السورية
تعلن رئاسة الجبهة الإسلامية السورية عن انتهاء العمل بهذا المسمى وحلِّ هيكليتها الإدارية والتنظيمية والانتقال بمكوناتها للعمل تحت مظلة ((الجبهة الإسلامية)) التي نسأل الله تعالى أن تكون جبهة خير وتمكين ونواة توحيد فصائل الثورة السورية على ما أثبتته في ميثاقها المقرر.
ولا يفوتنا شكر كل من أسهم وقدَّم لمشروع الجبهة الإسلامية السورية التي استطاعت أن تماهي بين ثمانية من مكوناتها لتصهرها في مسمى واحد ولله الحمد والفضل
رئيس الجبهة الإسلامية السورية
أبو عبد الله الحموي حسان عبود
So far the facts, now for an interpretation; what does this new merger mean for Syria’s rebellion forces ?
At first it is striking that in the group’s name Syria isn’t even mentioned, this could point to the fact that the eventual goal of this group goes beyond the Syrian conflict. And indeed, they state that The Islamic Front will act as follows: “This independent political, military and social formation aims to topple the Assad regime completely and build an Islamic state where the sovereignty of God almighty alone will be our reference and ruler.”
Liwa al-Tawhid spokesman Abu Firas told the AFP news agency: “The doors are open to all the military factions, and a committee is working to study the entrance of all groups that also want to join.” “It has been decided that all the factions’ military, media, humanitarian and administrative offices will merge over a transitional period of three months,” he added.
Charles Lister of IHS Jane’s estimated that the Islamic Front’s forces might command at least 45,000 fighters. “This is an extremely significant development, both in terms of symbolism and the military effect it will likely have on the ground.”
And indeed as @Charles_Lister points out, this new merger further cripples the Syrian National Council, already they lost a significant amount of backing by the creation of Jaysh al-Islam two months ago.
Jabhat al-Islamiyya’s leaders:
Islamic Front’s Shura Council leader: Suqor al-Sham’s Abu Issa al-Sheikh.
Islamic Front’s Deputy Shura Council leader: Liwa al-Tawhid’s Abu Amr Zeidan Haji al-Hreitan.
Islamic Front’s chief of Political Office: Ahrar al-Sham’s Hassan Aboud.
Islamic Front’s chief of Military Operations: Jaysh al-Islam’s Zahran Alloush.
Islamic Front’s Secretary General: Liwa al-Haq’s Sheikh Abu Ratib.