Suqour al Sham, ISIS agree to ceasefire

Suqour al Sham, one of six Islamist brigades that makes up the Islamic Front, has agreed to a ceasefire with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham. From the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights’ Facebook page:

Key member of the Islamist Front signs truce with ISIS [Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham]. SRF [Syrian Revolutionaries Front ] statement released today not acknowledging agreement.

The ISIS and the Suqour al-Sham islamist brigades, a main component in the Islamic Front, have signed a ceasefire yesterday. The agreement meant the immediate halt of clashes between the two militias and that neither side would support another armed group if they were clashing with them. If either side negates the agreement a joint shari’a court would be set to settle the dispute.

It is important to note that clashes have taken place between the two groups, with a military commander of Suqour al-Sham, and head of one of its brigades, and 6 fighters from the brigade, were killed by an ISIS ambush in the Sha’er dessert, Hama province.

On the 2nd of this month violent clashes took place between the two groups by the Sha’er oil fields, in the southwest of Hama province. The ISIS managed to besiege more than 500 fighters from Suqour al-Sham, with attempts by islamist and non-islamist rebels to break the siege.

The Syrian Revolutionaries Front issued a statement condemning the ceasefire of a prominent member of the IF with the ISIS. The statement called the ISIS a dark movement that enjoys spilling blood and has left Islam by the near unanimous fatwas, accusing it of several massacres against “Ahl al-Sunna” and even that it is working in collaboration with the regime. The Front stated that it will both battle the “Nusayri” (derogatory term for Alawi) regime and the ISIS.

As for the ceasefire, the statement called it illegitimate because it stemmed from a siege. The Front called for an end to the bloodshed and the evacuation of the foreign ISIS fighters outside of Syria. They state that they are the true defenders of Islam and the revolution and called on other rebel organisations to establish a joint room of operations.

The Syrian Revolutionaries Front, an alliance of 14 rebel groups from the all but defunct Free Syrian Army, may protest the ceasefire with the ISIS, but Suqour al Sham is no longer a member of the FSA and does not recognize the Syrian National Council. Suqour al Sham joined the Islamic Front in December 2013.

The timing of the ceasefire is interesting given Al Qaeda General Command’s denunciation of the ISIS earlier this week. The denunciation serves to further isolate the ISIS from the Al Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant, al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, as well as from allies in the Islamic Front. The ISIS has been clashing with the Islamic Front and other rebel units over the ISIS’ heavy-handed treatment of competing groups.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Kent Gatewood says:

    Any American who has fought for any group in Syria should lose his citizenship and, of course, been denied reentry.

  • George says:

    Unlike during the Iraq war, AQC has not publicly embraced the ISIS – then known as ISI. The result then wasn’t a defeat, as many naively thought, but to strengthen it for what would develop into the group we see today. This strategic decision by AQC to further strengthen the then ISI through association with the jihadist-popular Bin Laden face-man has allowed it to grow into, arguably, the strongest single group in the Syrian opposition – and it certainly is now the major power in Sunni Iraq. Despite the mainstream consensus that suggests ISIS’s isolation from today’s AQC is damaging it, it actually is helping it. Given that AQC no longer holds the attention or commands the same sort of allegiance in jihadist circles as it did with Bin Laden as the public face, AQC appears to be acknowledging this reality and is bowing out of that position – letting ISIS take the position it already holds in the jihadist world and run with it. This may allow AQC to rebuild and retool itself while ISIS and ISIS-aligned groups push forward in the region – or it may simply subsume itself within the ISIS at some point. In this light, don’t be surprised to see more individual jihadist groups in Syria contracting cease-fires with ISIS as they are unable to defeat them and will seek to either accommodate or outright give allegiance to them. At this point, the only realistic way the ISIS can be defeated and halted – beyond it sabotaging itself – is through NATO/UN intervention which nobody has the stomach for at this point.


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