Ahrar al-Sham official slams Nusra leader

Ahrar al-Sham political bureau member Hosam Tarsha said Jolani's latest comments indicate he is "mentally unstable."

Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham flags. (image via All4Syria.info)

BEIRUT - An official in the powerful Ahrar al-Sham rebel group has launched an angry broadside against the leader of the Al-Nusra Front, in an unusual sign of discontent between the two Islamist factions that fight alongside each other in northwest Syria.


Ahrar al-Sham political bureau member Hosam Tarsha issued a long-statement slamming Abu Mohammad al-Jolani over his interview earlier in December in which the Nusra chief rejected the Riyadh summit of Syrian opposition groups that Ahrar had joined.


“Jolani’s interview bore blatant contradictions… that show he has an unstable mental condition,” Tarsha wrote in a highly-critical Facebook post published Saturday.


He said that the Nusra leader’s recent comments against the Riyadh conference reveal that he has a “clumsy reading of the Syrian scenario and the scenario of the revolution.”


“Brother Jolani, and this is most regrettable, is preventing the factions from unifying in order to lead the political jihad and struggle alongside the military jihad,” the Ahrar al-Sham official added.


Jolani told reporters during a sit-down aired by Orient TV on December 12 that the Saudi-sponsored opposition conference was “a conspiracy” and “betrayal” of Syrian revolutionaries.


"Whoever went to the conference does not have the ability to implement things on the ground," the Nusra leader added in a direct criticism of the groups that participated in the summit, including Ahrar al-Sham and fellow Islamist faction Army of Islam.


Ahrar al-Sham’s representative in Riyadh signed on to the Riyadh agreement in which opposition factions agreed to form a unified team to negotiate with the Syrian regime.


However, an apparent rift has grown within the hardline group over the closing statement for the Saudi-sponsored conference that brought together over 100 opposition figures.


Ahrar issued a statement during the summit that it was withdrawing, even though its delegate then reportedly agreed to the statement, raising questions over the group’s final position on the conference.


The Riyadh conference established a committee, which will include representatives from Ahrar al-Sham, that is tasked to select a negotiating team for the Syria peace talks Moscow and Washington hopes to kick-start in January.


NOW's English news desk editor Albin Szakola (@AlbinSzakola) wrote this report. Ullin Hope translated the Arabic-language source material.


Ahrar al-Sham and Nusra are close allies that fight side-by-side in northwestern Syria. (image via All4Syria.info)

Jolani’s interview bore blatant contradictions… that show he has an unstable mental condition.