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Islamic Front (Syria)

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Title: Islamic Front (Syria)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Ahrar ash-Sham, Suqour al-Sham Brigade, Battle of Aleppo (2012–present), Adra massacre
Collection: Anti-Government Factions of the Syrian Civil War
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Islamic Front (Syria)

Islamic Front
الجبهة الإسلامية
al-Jabhat al-Islāmiyyah

Participant in the Syrian Civil War

Official logo of the Islamic Front

Administration flag

War flag
Active 22 November 2013–Present

Sunni Islamism[1]

Leaders Ahmed Abu Issa[3]
Zahran Alloush
Hassan Abboud
Abul-Abbas al-Shami
Abu Rateb
Abu Omar Hreitan
Area of operations Syria
Strength 40,000[5]–70,000[6] (Mar. 2014)
Part of

State opponents

Non-state opponents
Shia groups

Syrian-affiliated groups

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant[13]
Battles and wars

Syrian Civil War


The Islamic Front (Arabic: الجبهة الإسلامية‎, al-Jabhat al-Islāmiyyah) is an Islamist rebel group involved in the Syrian Civil War[3] that was formed by the merger of seven separate groups on 22 November 2013.[14] The merger was achieved by expanding the preceding Syrian Islamic Front alliance. The group is widely seen as backed and armed by Saudi Arabia.[15][16][17]

On 24 December 2014, the Islamic Front factions in the Aleppo Governorate formed the Levant Front alliance with other armed groups in northern Syria.[18] In 2015, Salafist Ahrar ash-Sham - a major component of the Islamic Front alliance, joined with Jihadi groups under the Army of Conquest operations room umbrella, successfully campaigning against the Syrian Arab Army in the northern districts from March to September 2015. The group however continued nominal membership in the Islamic Front alliance, despite the more Jihadist orientation.

The Islamic Front's charter rejects the concepts of representative democracy and secularism, instead seeking to establish an Islamic state ruled by a Majlis-ash-Shura and implementing sharia. An anonymous spokesman for the group stated that it would not have ties with the Syrian National Coalition,[19] though a member of the political bureau of the group, Ahmad Musa, has stated that he hopes for recognition from the Syrian National Council in cooperation for what he suggested "the Syrian people want. They want a revolution and not politics and foreign agendas."[20] Despite non-recognition of the authority of the Syrian Coalition, the Islamic Front is aligned with other Syrian Opposition-affiliated groups under the Syrian Revolutionary Command Council.


  • History 1
    • Founding 1.1
    • Background 1.2
    • Later events 1.3
  • Objectives 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5



Video released on 22 November 2013 showing the formation of the Islamic Front. Ahmed Abu Issa (center) speaking

After three months of protests in 2011, many Salafist Islamist prisoners managed to be released from Sednaya Prison, including Zahran Alloush and Hassan Aboud. They formed their own Islamist groups and took up arms against the Syrian Government. Many of them became leaders of Islamist groups in the Islamic Front such as Jaysh al-Islam and Ahrar ash-Sham.

On 22 November 2013, seven Islamist groups agreed to a pact that would dissolve the groups individually and lead to the formation of the Islamic Front. The groups were:

The Syrian Islamic Front tweeted that it had disbanded and its component groups would hereby operate under the Islamic Front.[23] Not all groups in the Syrian Islamic Liberation Front joined the Islamic Front, although many of the key leaders of the SILF did. The Syrian Islamic Liberation Front announced its dissolution on 26 November 2013.[24]

The leadership of the Islamic Front at the time of its founding was announced as Shura Council Leader: Ahmed Abu Issa (Suqour al-Sham), Deputy Shura Council Leader: Abu Omar Hreitan (Liwa al-Tawhid), General Secretary: Sheikh Abu Rateb (Liwa al-Haqq), Sharia Office: Abul-Abbas al-Shami (Ahrar ash-Sham), Political Office: Hassan Abboud (Ahrar ash-Sham) and Military Office: Zahran Alloush (Jaysh al-Islam)[25]

A Liwa al-Tawhid member said the old names "will disappear and the groups will now melt [sic] into the new merger. There will be no such thing as Liwa al-Tawhid." The head of the group's Consultative Council, Amad Essa al-Sheikh, said the group sought "a paradigm shift in the armed rebellion by closing ranks and mobilising them to become the real alternative to the dying regime." He added that the group would cooperate with what it called "loyal fighters" in the country, including the Free Syrian Army (FSA).[20] However on 3 December 2013 they withdrew from the command of the FSA and criticized its leadership.[26] On 6 December 2013, fighters from the Islamic Front seized several FSA bases and depots at the Bab al-Hawa crossing.[26] This caused conflict between the two groups that lasted until later in December 2013.[26]


The merger followed the death of Liwa al-Tawhid's military leader, Abdul Qader Saleh, from wounds a week earlier following an air strike in Aleppo, where he was meeting other leaders.[1] A group member, Adil Fistok, said the merger planning was in the works for seven months; Fistok stated that "One of the major obstacles we faced was the lust for power by some leaders. But eventually everyone made concessions in order to make this project happen." According to him, the primary challenge was a lack of money and weapons.[20] It has been estimated by Charles Lister of IHS Jane's that the total number of fighters the Islamic Front has may be up to 45,000.[3]

Later events

In December 2013, the Islamic Front seized the FSA headquarters, along with key supply warehouses in Atmeh, as well as the nearby border crossing with Turkey at Bab al-Hawa. FSA Chief-of-Staff Brigadier General Salim Idris fled via Turkey to Doha, Qatar, during the assault.[27] However, the FSA denied that Idris had left Syria, and said that the Islamic Front was asked to help the FSA fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.[28] The FSA confirmed on 13 December 2013 that the Islamic Front had obtained machine guns and ammunition that were not supposed to be in the possession of the Islamists.[29] Later that month, however, the Islamic Front and the Free Syrian Army reconciled.[30]

By early 2014, the Islamic Front had condemned the actions of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant; and some factions within the alliance attacked it.[31] Several Islamic Front brigades, including Suqour al-Sham and Ahrar ash-Sham, developed internal divisions on how to or even whether to confront the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.[6] On 9 September 2014, Hassan Abboud, the Islamic Front's political leader, and Abu Abdulmalek al-Sharei, the head of the Islamic Front's Sharia Council, were killed along with many other senior Ahrar ash-Sham commanders, when a bomb went off as a high-level meeting was going on near an ammunition dump in Idlib province.[4][32]

On October 2014 a Hazara (Liwa Fatemiyoun) who was captured alive in the rubble of a building in Aleppo by the Islamic Front,[33][34] was later beheaded.[35]

The Islamic Front and Ahrar ash-Sham in particular have received weapons from Turkey according to German intelligence.[36][37]


“The Islamic Movement of Free Men of the Levant is an Islamist, reformist, innovative and comprehensive movement. It is integrated with the Islamic Front and is a comprehensive and Islamic military, political and social formation. It aims to completely overthrow the Assad regime in Syria and build an Islamic state whose only sovereign, reference, ruler, direction, and individual, societal and nationwide unifier is Allah Almighty’s Sharia (law)”. - original Arabic text from Ahrar ash-Sham's website at, translated into English by Malak Chabkoun at the Al Jazeera Center for Studies.[38]

The Islamic Front released its charter on the Internet in late November 2013, outlining its aims and objectives, although the document avoided providing a clear vision of the future.[39] The Islamic Front's charter rejects the concepts of representative democracy and secularism, instead seeking to establish an Islamic state ruled by a Majlis-ash-Shura and implementing sharia. It acknowledges the ethnic and religious minorities that live in Syria, while also welcoming the foreign fighters who have joined the anti-Assad forces and rejecting non-military means of ending the civil war.[39] One member of the political assembly of the group has stated that the Islamic Front could accept Syria as a democracy, as long as sharia is "sovereign".[40] The Islamic Front said it aspires “to establish an independent state where God’s merciful law is sovereign and where the individuals of this state enjoy justice and a dignified life.”[41]

Islamic Front leader [43]

Alloush gave a speech during Ramadan of 2013 attacking Shia whom he called "Rafidis" (الرافضة) and Alawites, whom he called "Nusayris" and the "Majus" (المجوس)(Zoroastrians), addressing them as "filthy" (الأنجاس) and saying that "the Mujahideen of Shaam will cleanse Shaam of the Filth of Rafidis & Rafidism, they will cleanse it for ever in sha Allah, till they will cleanse the land of Shaam of the filth of the Majoos (Fireworshippers) who fought the Religion of Allah the Almighty","the Shia are still despicable & pitiful though history", "And I give you the news, oh Filthy Rafidis: Just as Banu Umayya crushed your heads in the Past, the people of Ghouta & Shaam will crush them soon, They will make you taste a painful torment in this world, before Allah makes you taste it in the Hereafter, Oh you unclean Rafidis! You will collide into what you've never expected of Power from the Mujahideen of Islam".[44][45][46][47][48][49][50][51] On April 9, 2015 Alloush's official English language twitter account zahranalloush retweeted his 2013 Ramadan speech calling for the extermination of Shia and Alawites from the Levant.[52]

Alloush has called Shia, Alawites, and Iranians by the names "Rafidi", "Nusayri", and "Majusi" (Magi, a term in Arabic referring to Zoroastrians).[53]

Alloush said that Alawites are "more infidel than Jews and Christians." (أكفر من اليهود والنصارى), addressing the Alawites as "Nusayri" (النصيرية).[54] which was originally from a fatwa about Alawites issued by Ibn Taymiyyah.[55]

Alloush claimed that "Our nation has a great thirst for an Islamic state" and attacked democracy after an interviewer asked Alloush "Can you accept a civil, democratic, and pluralistic state".[56][57][58][59][60][61][62]

Zahran Alloush claimed that "The one who looks in the modern time sees that since the Jihad was established in the Islamic world from Afghanistan to Chechnya, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Africa, Iraq, Somalia and now Syria, the West deals with the Jihad with a double standard. First they want to use the Jihad to spread extremism then import the sons of the Islamic world to unite them under an ideology that makes the general Muslims hate the Religion".[63] Alloush also railed against social media.[64]

The former official twitter account of Zahran Alloush zahran1970 which was suspended by twitter, sent out multiple direct messages calling people "soldier of the Nusayri Electronic Army" and "follower of the Jew ibn Saba'", and "enemy of Allah", along with the last portion of Quran verse 3:119 (قل موتوا بغيظكم إن الله عليم بذات الصدور) which tells people to die in rage and that Allah knows what is in their breasts.[65]

Jaysh al-Islam released a video glorifying the Ummayads and the conquest of the Levant by the Muslims.[66][67]

Jaysh al-Islam released a video showing the execution of ISIS members and showed a Jaysh al-Islam Sharī'ah official named Shaykh Abu Abd ar-Rahman Ka'ka (الشيخ أبو عبد الرحمن كعكة) gave a speech condemning "those who want (ISIS) to achieve" (وما الذي يريدون أن يحققوه), as "of the Madhhab of the Khawarij" (إنه مذهب الخوارج), "madhhab of hypocrisy" (مذهب النفاق), "madhhab of Abdullah ibn Saba' the Jew, who are joined with those under the banner of the dogs of (hell) fire "( مذهب عبد الله بن سبأ اليهودي إنه الإنضمام تحت لواء كلاب أهل النار).[68]

Zahran Alloush gave a speech exhorting his fighters to fight against "the Magi and Rafidi enemies" whom he accused of trying to establish a "Magi state", and a "Persian state".[69][70]

In July 2015 Alloush accused "international forces" of waging a media war of jihadists such as his own Jaysh al-Islam.[71]

Zahran Alloush denounced the PKK[72] and claimed "This Kurdistan Labor Party embraces Hegel's philosophy as its ideology .... Hegel is a communist."[73][74][75]

Zahran Alloush's official facebook handle is zhran1970 and his twitter handles are zahranalloush and zahran1970 (suspended).[76][77][78]

Captain Islam Alloush, a cousin of Zahran Alloush, serves as the spokesman of Jaysh al Islam and runs the twitter account islamallousheng,[79] and the Arabic account islamdamas1980.[80] Islam Alloush announced Jaysh al-Islam's support to Turkey's anti PKK offensive.[81]


  • Islamic Front on Twitter (Arabic)

External links

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See also

The Islamic Front criticized ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), saying: "They killed the people of Islam and leave the idol worshippers" (يقتلون أهل الإسلام ويدعون أهل الأوثان) and "They use the verses talking about the disbelievers and implement it on the Muslims" (ينزلون أيات نزلت في الكفار على المسلمين).[115]

Ahrar ash-Sham member Dr. Abd al-Karim al-Kurdi tweeted an image of a quote made by Jabhat al-Nusra Shaykh Majid Al Rashid defending Ahrar and expounding on unity between Ahrar and Nusra- (جبهة النصرة وأحرار الشام عينان في رأس واحدة ولا يعرف الفضل لأهل الفضل إلا أصحاب الفضل).[100]

The Brookings Doha Center fellow Charles Lister posted a message by Ahrar leader Hassan Aboud to ISIS leader Baghdadi.[112][113][114]

An Ahrar ash-Sham leader Abu Abdul Malik said that "The nations do not change drastically overnight and the plant does not ripen suddenly nor does its fruit ripen until they stand upon stalks and whoever hastens in a thing before its due time will be punished by being deprived of it. The Fiqh of Mara7el (stages) is from Siyasah Shar'iyyah - In the beginning the prophet called his tribe who were closest to him then the people of Makkah and the cities around it, then the Arab specially then all of mandkind. Therefore, measure & prioritize.(إن الأمم لا تتغيرفجأة بين عشية وضحاها ، والنبات لايثمر فجأة ، وثماره لا تنضج إلا إذا استوى على سوقه، ومن تعجل بشيء قبل أوانه عوقب بحرمانه . فقه المراحل من السياسة النبوية ابتدأ النبي بدعوة عشيرته الأقربين، ثم دعا أهل مكة وما حولها، ثم العرب خاصة، ثم الناس كافة . (وعلى ذلك فقس) .)[109][110][111]

An Islamic Front Sharia Court Judge in Aleppo Mohamed Najeeb Bannan stated "The legal reference is the Islamic Sharia. The cases are different, from robberies to drug use, to moral crimes. It's our duty to look at any crime that comes to us. . . After the regime has fallen, we believe that the Muslim majority in Syria will ask for an Islamic state. Of course, it's very important to point out that some say the Islamic Sharia will cut off people's hands and heads, but it only applies to criminals. And to start off by killing, crucifying etc. That is not correct at all." In response to being asked what the difference between the Islamic Front's and ISIS's version of sharia would be, he said "One of their mistakes is before the regime has fallen, and before they've established what in Sharia is called Tamkeen [having a stable state], they started applying Sharia, thinking God gave them permission to control the land and establish a Caliphate. This goes against the beliefs of religious scholars around the world. This is what [IS] did wrong. This is going to cause a lot of trouble. Anyone who opposes [IS] will be considered against Sharia and will be severely punished."[108]

Hassan Aboud condemned democracy in an interview with Al-Jazeera, saying that Democracy is people governing people, according to rules they please, We say that we have a divine system whose law is Allah's for his creatures and his slaves who he appointed as viceregents on this Earth.[106] (الديمقراطية هي أن تحكم الناس بالناس وفق ما يرتئون له من أحكام، نحن نقول بأن لدينا نظاماً ربانياً شرعه الله لخلقه وعباده وهو استخلفنا في هذه الأرض)[107]

Ahrar ash-Sham leader Hassan Aboud stated that Ahrar ash-Sham worked with Nusra Front and would have no problems with Nusra as long as they continued fighting Assad, Aboud also said Ahrar worked with Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in some battles but that their agenda was disagreeable. Aboud also said all parties shared the same objective of establishing an Islamic State, whether they were ISIS, Al Nusra, the Islamic Front, or the FSA but they differed as to the "tactics, strategies or methods".[101][102][103][104] Aboud noted that in Syria "there are no secular groups".[105]

Ahrar ash-Sham member Dr. Abd al-Karim al-Kurdi tweeted an image of a quote made by Jabhat al-Nusra Shaykh Majid Al Rashid defending Ahrar and expounding on unity between Ahrar and Nusra- (جبهة النصرة وأحرار الشام عينان في رأس واحدة ولا يعرف الفضل لأهل الفضل إلا أصحاب الفضل).[100]

The deceased Ahrar ash-Sham leader Abu Hamza Al-Sharkia stated to a gathering of Ahrar fighters: "Keep in mind that in our route that we chose, soldiers and leaders is to fight until we conquer or have shahada in the way of Allah."[99]

ِIn Northern Aleppo Ahrar ash-Sham beheaded an ISIS member.[97][98]

A statement issued by Ahrar ash-Sham thanked Turkey and Qatar for their help.[96]

At the border crossing of Bab al Hawa on the Syria Turkey border, the "Flag of Tawheed" was raised by Ahrar ash-Sham.[92][93][94][95]

Ahrar ash-Sham opened a military training camp in Aleppo called the "harsh against the infidels" (أشداء على الكفار) camp.[91]

At an Ahrar ash-Sham seminar on religion in the northern Homs countryside, the Quran verse 48:29 enjoining Muslims to be harsh against the infidels (أَشِدَّاءُ عَلَى الْكُفَّارِ) was featured prominently on a banner in black color.[90]

Ahrar ash-Sham and the Islamic Front in general issued condolences for Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar upon his death.[87][88][89]


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