The US-backed Harakat Hazm, or Hazm Movement, has joined several groups, including Jaish al Muhajireen wal Ansar, a Chechen-led jihadist group, and the Islamist Jaish Mujahideen (Army of Mujahideen) in fighting the Assad regime in the Handarat District of Aleppo. In the video posted above, one can clearly see Hazm fighters use a US-supplied BGM-71 TOW anti-tank missile to destroy a regime tank. Hazm has also posted a video on its YouTube account showing the destruction of a regime BMP in Handarat.
Jaish al Muhajireen wal Ansar (the Army of the Emigrants and Helpers), also known as the Muhajireen Army, is an al Qaeda-allied jihadist group that is populated by commanders and fighters from the Islamic Caucasus Emirate as well as a large number of Syrians. The group is considered to be the Caucasus Emirate’s branch in Syria. After the death of Islamic Caucasus Emirate leader Doku Umarov, the Muhajireen Army swore allegiance to his replacement, Ali Abu Mukhammad. The jihadist group often fights alongside the Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria. The Muhajireen Army was just recently added to the US State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. [See LWJ report, State Department adds Chechen, Moroccan-led jihadist groups to terrorist list.]
Kavkaz Center, which acts as the news site for the Islamic Caucasus Emirate, has posted about the Muhajireen Army’s advances in Aleppo on Twitter. According to Joanna Paraszczuk of From Chechnya to Syria, they said: “JMA kicked out the Assadites [Syrian Arab Army troops or other pro-government forces] from Handarat in N. Aleppo. The kuffar [“infidels”] retreated suffering heavy losses.”
Also partaking in the fighting in Aleppo is Jaish Mujahideen, or the Army of Mujahideen, a rebel coalition that includes several Islamist Free Syrian Army units. The group is reportedly in the process of being vetted by the United States to receive military aid.
Underscoring the complexity of vetting Syrian rebel groups for US assistance, on Sept. 23, the US-backed Hazm Movement released a statement condemning the recent coalition airstrikes in Syria:
“What occurred by way of guiding the aerial attacks is considered an attack on national sovereignty and the achievement of the Syrian revolution. The the continued disregard of the international community to what the revolutionary forces called for by way of arming the FSA without any conditions is but the harbinger of failure and destruction that will affect the entire region.
We in the Hazm Party confirm our complete commitment to the principles of the revolution and that our actions only in service of the proprieties of revolutionary work and what national interest requires and it is not according to what the desire of the international coalition dictates. We also confirm that the latter’s [the international coalition’s] continued decisions seeking to win international public opinion will not succeed in eradicating extremism but will encourage its growth instead. The only path to establishing peace in the region will come via realizing the aspirations of the Syrian people and through the hands of Syrians.
The only beneficiary of the foreign intervention in Syria is the Assad regime, especially in light of the absence of any true strategy to topple him. The latter [Assad] will not spare any effort to target civilians in an effort to rehabilitate himself [his image] internationally.”
The Hazm Movement is also known to fight alongside the Al Nusrah Front. A Los Angeles Times article in early September quotes a Hazm fighter as saying, “Inside Syria we became labeled as secularists and feared Nusrah Front was going to battle us. But Nusrah doesn’t fight us, we actually fight alongside them. We like Nusrah.”
Oren Adaki provided the translation of the Hazm statement on the recent coalition airstrikes in Syria.