“Jaish al-Fath”: What is the group that is credited with the murder of the Ambassador of Russia

"Джейш аль-Фатх": Что собой представляет группировка, которой приписывают убийство посла России

Armed man shot and killed on 19 December in Ankara, the Russian Ambassador in Turkey Andrey Karlov. The murderer was 22-year-old Turkish policeman mevlüt MERT Altıntaş, it liquidated soon after the attack. Two days later the Iraqi channel Al Sumaria reported that a coalition militants “Jaish al-Fatah” has claimed responsibility for the murder of a Russian diplomat. A document was published in the Arabic language, and in a statement, the militants said that “it was revenge for women, children and the elderly in Aleppo”.

Later, however, the SITE Intelligence Group, an organization that monitors the activity and resources of jihadist groups, said that “Jaish al-Fatah” has denied his involvement in the murder of the Russian Ambassador in Turkey. According to the information resource, the extremists called fabricated statements to the media that the militants of this organization had claimed responsibility for the crime.

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I agree with American experts and the Syrian journalist Kyaram al-Hamad. He suggested that the statement spread on behalf of “Jaish al-Fatah”, is fake. Al-Hamad drew attention to the difference in the fonts used in the design of this message and one of the real statements of the militants.

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So then who killed the Russian Ambassador? Turkish authorities believe that the murder involved supporters of Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen, but the Russian leadership, in turn, urged to wait results of work of investigators. It is not excluded that mevlüt MERT Altıntaş will be a member of one of the Islamist groups in Syria. The fact that the organization “Jaish al-Fatah” consists of many groups with no unified command. It is possible that the murder was arranged by one of them. The dying words of the killer Ambassador clearly pointed out that the crime was in retaliation for the actions of the Russians in Syria. “We die at Aleppo, you will die here. Remember Aleppo, Syria remember! Only death will stop me,” shouted after the shooting Altıntaş. According to the Turkish Hurriyet, previously, he was guarding President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Let’s see what is the “Jaish al-Fatah”.

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“Jaish al-Fath” (Arabic for “Army of conquest”) brings together a number of armed groups opposing government forces in Syria. The organization was born 24 March 2015, by joining forces of various Islamist movements under the leadership of Saudi cleric Dr. Abdullah al-Muheisin. But he is not the leader of the coalition. The Central leadership, “the Army” no. The jihadist Evangelist and fundraiser for al-Muhaisen the chief judge of the “Army of conquest” and is considered the most famous member of the “League of scientists”. A kind of moral authority to the local Islamists.

The coalition operates mainly in the region of Idlib in the North-East of the country near the Turkish border. But some groups are also active in Hama and Latakia. Four days after the merger, March 28, 2015 “Army of conquest” took the city of Idlib, the administrative center of the homonymous region. In the following months the Army was in the forefront of the offensive in Northwest Syria in which government forces were driven out of Idlib province. After this success, the division of the army of conquest began to emerge in other parts of Syria.

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“Jaish al-Fatah” his main enemies considers the regime of Bashar al-Assad and the Shiite militants of Hezbollah. Most members of the groups fighting against ISIS, but in the organization there are forces that allow for cooperation with the ideology of Caliphate. Feuding with friends, grouping “Army” perpetrated mass killings of members of this religious group.

“Ahrar al-sham”

The largest faction in the “Army of conquest” is the Islamist group “Ahrar al-sham”. “Islamic movement of free men of sham,” as in the translation of its name is the Union of the Islamic Salafist (Sunni, followers of this lifestyle and faith of early Muslim community) teams, United for the war against the army of the government of Bashar al-Assad, as well as militias the shabiha (Pro-government paramilitary forces) and Hezbollah (Shiite fighters from Lebanon, sponsored by Iran).

Organized a team of Emir Hassan Aboud. Its first members came from the Sunni political prisoners detained in the Damascus Sednaya prison until the liberation in the framework of the Amnesty in may 2011. In his first video “Ahrar al-sham” announced that its goal — the overthrow of the Assad government and establish an Islamic state in Syria. At the end of 2011, “Ahrar al-sham”, according to various estimates, there were about 25 groups distributed on Syria. Subsequently, the number of units increased, in July 2012 there were 50 of them, and in the middle of January 2013 already 83. “Ahrar al-sham” experts now count up to 20 thousand fighters, making it one of the largest opposition armed groups.

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9 Sep 2014 a suicide bomber detonated an explosive device during a meeting of commanders of “Ahrar al-sham” in the city of Idlib. The explosion killed at least 45 people, including the group’s leader Hassan Aboud and 27 field commanders. Responsibility for the attack, one did not take, but on February 23 the same year, a similar attack on the commanders of “Ahrar al-sham” committed by ISIS militants.

After the death of Hassan Aboud, the commander and spokesman of the group called Abu Yusuf al-Muhajir. Some Arab media indicate that it may be an alias. Interestingly, under the same name in the American reports of the special services featured member of the extremist grouping “At-Tauhid Val-Jihad” operating in the Sinai Peninsula. He called the state Department a specialist in explosive devices. Al Muhajir is accused of planning terrorist attacks in Egypt, including against U.S. interests. On his head the Americans are willing to pay about $ 3 million.

It is noteworthy that two months after the death of Aboud, U.S. air force began bombing positions of “Ahrar al-sham” in Idlib province.

“Ahrar al-sham” initially cooperated with the secular opposition forces the Free Syrian army, however, did not support her relationship with the political entity – the Syrian national coalition. After the loss of secular power in the country, “Ahrar al-sham” began to seek allies among other Islamist groups. Time magazine ascribes the funding groups, donors from Kuwait. The movement emphasizes that it is based in Syria, not global Jihad.

“Jabhat Fatah al-sham”

Another major grouping “Army of conquest” is “Jabhat Fatah al-sham”. Better known this organization under the same name – “Dzhabhat EN-Nusra” or “al-Nusra Front”.

“Jabhat Fatah al-sham,” or in translation “front for the liberation of Syria” emerged in July 2016, but the history of the group goes back to the beginning of 2012. 23 Jan 2012 there is a new Sunni Islamist organization “Dzhabhat EN-Nusra”.

The leader of the “Frente al-Nusra” little is known. He performs under the alias “Abu Muhammad al-Dzhulani”, which is probably connected with the place of his birth in the South of Syria, on the Golan heights. Allegedly the real name of al-Dzhulani – Ahmad Hussein al-sharaa. His father was an employee of the oil industry, has written several books on oil production and nefterazrabotki. Sharaa studied media in Damascus University when the outbreak of the Iraq war forced him to leave school and go to the aid of the jihadists in Iraq. Was an associate of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Then arrested by the Americans and incarcerated in the camp camp Bukka. He was released in 2008. He became one of the members of the group “Islamic state of Iraq”, which from the beginning of the war in Syria and sent al-Dzhulani to lead the movement in this country.

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First, the “Jabhat al-Nusra” cooperated with the “Islamic state of Iraq and the Levant”. The ideology of “Nusra” and the Islamic state involves the construction in Syria and Iraq, Sunni Islamic state – the Caliphate. However, subsequently broke out between them an ideological conflict. “Jabhat al-Nusra” joined many members of the secular Free Syrian army, such as the expansion and growing influence of the “Front” opposed to the leaders of ISIS. The “Jabhat al-Nusra” has not found understanding with the secular forces, while maintaining their structure and increasing the impact by combining with other Islamist forces. The media wrote about the elimination of “Nusra” members of the Supreme military Council, Kamal Hamami of the FSA.

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The leader of “al-Qaeda” Ayman Zawahiri announced the group the sole legitimate representative of “al-Qaeda” in Syria. The Syrian wing “al-Qaeda” was considered one of the most aggressive and fastest growing factions of the opposition. “Jabhat al-Nusra” is credited with the kidnapping of UN peacekeepers in the Golan heights, mass executions military government of the army and paramilitary groups created by the Damascus rocket attacks on cities controlled by Assad’s forces, and other war crimes.

The organization was declared a terrorist in the UN, the US, UK, Australia, Turkey and Russia. The U.S. air force started bombing its positions since August 2014. The grouping associated with the Qatari sheikhs.

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When the positions of Islamists in Syria began to deteriorate in July 2016, “Jabhat al-Nusra” changed name to “Jabhat Fatah al-sham” and announced the severance of relations with “al-Qaeda”. Some experts believe that this attempt of the authorities of Qatar to conduct a “rebranding” of the group to mitigate the position of the West.

Now the number of militants is estimated at 5 thousand. According to Al-Ahram Weekly, up to 90% of the manpower in the “Army of conquest” are the militants of the “Jabhat Fatah al-sham” and “Ahrar al-sham”.

“Jund al-Aqsa”

Among other groups, are members of the “Army of conquest”, is the “Jund al-Aqsa,” or “Soldiers of al-Aqsa”. The group was established in 2012 as a division of the branch “al-Qaeda” in Syria “jabhat an-Nusra.” However, after the official release the latest “al-Qaeda” in July 2016, “Jund al-Aqsa” began to act independently. At first, consisted mostly of not Syrian Arabs. “Jund al-Aqsa” responsible for organizing a series of terrorist attacks in Syria and the killing of civilians. In 2014 ISIS militants made a massacre in the village of Maan, Hama province, killing more than 40 civilians from among the alawites.

The idea of “Jund al-Aqsa” similar to the ideas of ISIS (the construction of the Caliphate right on Sharia), which the organization in the summer of 2016 even came out of the “Army of conquest”. The conflict was caused by the differences of “Ahrar al-sham” around the application of Islamic law in areas under their control. Between fighters of the two groups even encountered an armed confrontation. However, with the intensification of the bombing of Russian aircraft Aleppo and Syrian troops attack to the North “Jund al-Aqsa” returned to the “Army of conquest”.

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The US state Department announced on 20 September 2016 on the introduction of “Jund al-Aqsa” in the “government list of international terrorist organizations.” The statement said that the group continues to be one of the branches of “al-Qaeda” in Syria. Among the soldiers of the “Jund al-Aqsa”, whose number is estimated at 1.5-1.6 thousand, many citizens of Saudi Arabia. Funding for the group is credited with the authorities of Qatar, and its Creator Jordanian Mohammed Yusuf Osman has even called himself Abu Abdel Aziz al-Katari. He was one of the founders of the “Front EN-Nusra”, and was a high rank in al-Qaida. His sons are citizens of Qatar. After my father died, one of them headed the group. Now “Jund al-Aqsa” led by the Saudi Emir Abu Thar al-Nejdi.

“Jaish al-Muhajirin Val-Ansar”

Another significant group of militants, a member of the “Army of conquest” – “Jaish al-Muhajirin Val Ansar,” or “Army of immigrants and helpers”. Initially, it was called “al-Kataib Muhajirin”, consisted mainly of citizens of the countries of the former USSR, as well as the Turks, and was closely associated with the “Islamic state”. However, after the split between LIH and “al-Nusra Front”, the “Brigade of al-Muhajirin” swore allegiance to al-Qaida.

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In may 2013, the group has teamed up with two other Islamist groups and adopted its current name. The commander of group has long been a man known under the alias “Abu Omar al-Shishani”. Later, he along with his squad defected to the “Islamic state”. October 1, 2015 “Jaish al-Muhajirin Val-Ansar” has declared war on the Russian Federation. The United States named it a terrorist group. It was led by one Sheikh Mutassim Billah al-Madani. Under his leadership, are operating around 700 militants.

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The Legion Of The Sham

The above groupings are somehow connected with “al-Qaeda”. By contrast, in the “Army of conquest” are fighting groups of the Syrian “Muslim brotherhood” (“al-sham Legion”), as well as a few other more moderate groups.

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For winter 2015 “Army of conquest” suffered significant losses during the autumn-winter offensive of Assad’s forces and airstrikes videoconferencing and began to disintegrate. From it then split off as the most radical members, who advocated the Alliance with ISIS, and the militants loyal to the Syrian branch of the “Muslim Brothers”. However, in may 2016, the group has reorganized and regained strength by the inclusion in its ranks of the Islamic movement of Eastern Turkestan and the return of “Muslim Brothers”, which allowed her to begin a massive offensive in Aleppo province.

Idlib province, in which pre-war population of 1.5 million people, and is now under the control of opposition forces. “Jabhat Fatah al-sham” and “Ahrar al-sham”, according to Reuters, was among the main militant groups for several months resisted the troops of President Bashar al-Assad in Eastern Aleppo. They surrendered only 14 of December, when Syrian troops with the support of the Russian aviation simply erased Eastern Aleppo to the Ground. The surviving terrorists have offered to cease fire and to leave the territory according to the established corridors, including in the area of Idlib.

Belonging to the coalition groups maintain autonomy, that is, in “Army of conquest” has no unified command. The participants only coordinate efforts and, if necessary, divided between the available resources. According to sources Al-Ahram Weekly, 40% of the “Jaish al-Fatah” get out of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and the rest get by the capture values. The American media have repeatedly pointed out the Association of the leadership of Islamist groups with military intelligence, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Sergey Zviglyanich