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NOW

Homs rebels in merger

Jaysh al-Tawhid announced that it was joining the Authenticity and Development Front.

Jaysh al-Tawhid officials. (YouTube/Jaysh al-Tawhid)

BEIRUT – A rebel group active in the fighting front north of Homs has merged into a larger Islamist coalition with close ties to Saudi Arabia.

 

Jaysh al-Tawhid announced Monday evening on its official Facebook page that it was joining the Authenticity and Development Front, a moderate group that counts on approximately 5,000 combatants across Syria.

 

“We, Jaysh al-Tawhid operating in northern Homs, decided to incorporate within the Authenticity and Development Front to work under one leadership at home and abroad,” the statement, which was signed by the group’s leader Colonel Abdelsalam Al-Marai, said.

 

It added that the move came in “obedience to the words of Allah and our belief in the unity of ranks.”

 

The statement also carried a quote from the Quran’s third Sura (Al-Imran) commonly used by Syrian rebels to invoke unity: “And hold fast, all of you together, to the rope of Allah, and not be divided among yourselves.”

 

Jaysh al-Tawhid was formed on May 5, 2016 as a coalition of nine smaller rebel factions present in an approximately 50-kilometer wide pocket of territory north of Homs known as the “Rastan pocket,” which at its narrowest tendril stretches down directly from along the key M-5 highway to the outskirts of the provincial capital.

 

The Authenticity and Development Front, for its part, is active not only in Homs, but also the Aleppo the front and the battlefield northeast of Damascus in the eastern Qalamoun Mountains.

 

The coalition—which was formed in late 2012—is financed by Saudi Arabia. The group espouses a moderate form of Salafism called Madkhalism that is supports secular governance.

 

NOW’s English news desk editor Albin Szakola (@AlbinSzakola) wrote this report. Amin Nasr translated Arabic-language source material.

Jaysh al-Tawhid officials. (YouTube/Jaysh al-Tawhid)

We, Jaysh al-Tawhid operating in northern Homs, decided to incorporate within the Authenticity and Development Front to work under one leadership at home and abroad.