Three jihadist groups in Syria have formed a joint operations room in the Damascus countryside to combat the Syrian regime and Russian forces. The three organizations are Al Nusrah Front, Ahrar al Sham and Ajnad al Sham. The alliance, named Jund al Malahim (“Soldiers of the Epics”), is the latest in a series of jihadist-led coalitions formed by Al Nusrah, an official branch of al Qaeda, and Ahrar al Sham, which is linked to al Qaeda. The most prominent of these joint ventures is Jaysh al Fateh (“Army of Conquest”), which overran most of the Idlib province beginning in March.
The founding statement for the Jund al Malahim operations room (seen on the right) was posted on the official Twitter feeds of all three organizations on October 21. The jihadist groups say a “fierce attack” has been unleashed on the Muslim ummah (community of worldwide Muslims) in the Levant and elsewhere. And the Russians have joined this supposed assault by “following in the footsteps of the rejectionists [meaning Shiites and Iran], the crusaders and their allies.”
The jihadists say that due to the “suffocating siege” unleashed by Bashar al Assad’s “criminal regime” in the “blessed eastern Al Ghouta” countryside of Damascus, a new initiative became “necessary for all of the loyal and honest people to gather” together to “repulse” the “attack on the land of Muslims.”
Assad’s regime has committed a number of crimes, according to Jund al Malahim’s founding parties. These include the displacement of of Al Ghouta’s residents in order to create a “rejectionist [Shiite] region” that would “change” the “identity” of Damascus. The goal is to “isolate it from the Muslim ummah that is waging jihad.”
“We ask Allah almighty to make this operations room the beginning of a larger coalition that would gather factions under one flag and one army” that defends Muslims, attacks “the enemies of our sect and faith,” and liberates “the capital of the Umayyad,” the statement reads. The last part is a reference to the Umayyad dynasty, which ruled over one of the great Islamic caliphates.
Notably absent from Jund al Malahim is Jaysh al Islam, which is one of the largest rebel groups Al Ghouta. Jaysh al Islam has cooperated with Al Nusrah and Ahrar al Sham, but has also had disagreements with them. Jaysh al Islam is widely suspected of being backed by Saudi Arabia.
Like the other coalitions founded by Al Nusrah Front and Ahrar al Sham this year, Jund al Malahim has its own logo, which can be seen at the top of its founding statement.