A number of Syrian rebel groups have united in order to fight Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS). The group, commonly known by its former name as al-Nusra Front, is widely considered a terrorist organisation by the international community due to its links with al-Qaeda.
During recent weeks, JFS has launched a series of attacks on Ahrar al-Sham and its affiliates, one of the largest rebel opposition groups in Syria. This has led to numerous smaller rebel factions uniting with Ahrar al-Sham to establish a more effective force against JFS. The factions joining Ahrar al-Sham include Jaish al-Mujahideen, Suqoor al-Sham, Jaish al-Islam in addition to Fastaqim Union and Jabhat al-Shamiya in the western countryside of Aleppo. Most recently, Thuwar al-Sham announced its affiliation after the group released an independent statement.
JFS was excluded from the Astana peace talks held last week, and turned on smaller rebel factions for their participation in the negotiations. Militants of JFS then stormed and took control of the Idlib central prison and launched attacks on the Free Syrian Army and Ahrar al-Sham in and around Idlib.
It is believed that the uniting of the these rebel factions in response to JFS’ unprovoked attacks will only lead to more rebel infighting in Syria, and drive the country further away from a path towards a peaceful solution.