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Nusra accused of kidnapping FSA commander

The commander of the 56th Infantry Brigade was abducted while enroute from Maarat al-Numan to Aleppo.

Nusra Front members allegedly kidnapped Zaher al-Ahmad. (AFP/Karam al-Masri)

BEIRUT – Al-Nusra Front has been accused of kidnapping a rebel commander in the Idlib town of Maarat al-Numan, where the Al-Qaeda affiliate previously attacked a Free Syrian Army-linked faction earlier in the year.

 

“Masked Nusra Front member kidnapped Zaher al-Ahmad, the commander of Division 13’s 56th Infantry Brigade, on Monday night,” an activist news outlet based in the town said in a terse report.  

 

While the “Maaret al-Numan Revolution of the People” Facebook page did not go into further details on the incident, a spokesperson in the FSA-linked faction spoke with pro-rebel outlets on the abduction.

 

Division 13 media official Zakaria Quitaz told Smart News that the head of the 56th Infantry Brigade was kidnapped while enroute to Aleppo to “perform a task entrusted to him.”

 

The rebel official directly accused Nusra of being behind Ahmad’s disappearance; although he stressed that he had “no evidence” and was basing his claim on Nusra’s history of actions against other rebels in the area, which sparked a series of protests by Maaret al-Numan residents starting in March 2016.

 

In separate comments to Enab Baladi, Quitaz explained that Nusra previously conducted a “large number of kidnappings of [Division 13] members.”

 

 

Zaher al-Ahmad

Zaher al-Ahmad. (Facebook/syreaberd)

 

56th Infantry Brigade commander Zaher al-Ahmad was previously detained by Nusra after the jihadist group stormed the FSA faction’s bases in Maarat al-Numaan on March 12, a day after anti-Nusra protests erupted in the town.

 

In the ensuing days, Maarat al-Numan residents took to the streets in anger and went as far as burning down a Nusra HQ in the town, forcing the Al-Qaeda affiliate to accept mediation from an independent Sharia court formed to resolve its sharp differences with Division 13.

 

Ahmad was released on April 11, although efforts to arbitrate between the two rebel factions in the Idlib town remain bogged down.

 

Division 13 issued a statement on Tuesday calling on the newly-formed Assembly of Al-Sham Scholars—which aims to bridge differences between opposition factions—to resolve the “the issue between us and Al-Nusra Front.”

 

While Division 13 did not directly mention the kidnapping of Ahmad in its statement, it complained that Nusra waged a “war managed in a secret manner… [in which it] assaulted activists, kidnapped leaders, and raided the homes of our members.”

 

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

Nusra Front members allegedly kidnapped Zaher al-Ahmad. (AFP/Karam al-Masri)

The rebel official directly accused Nusra of being behind Ahmad’s disappearance; although he stressed that he had “no evidence."