Aleppo under Siege: Interview with Suqour al-Sham- an Islamist Rebel Perspective

Western media rarely gets an insight into how Islamist battalions work and think especially within the rebel operation room, Jaysh al-Fath, the Army of Conquest. This is a coalition of seven Islamist rebel groups including Jabhat al-Fateh al-Sham (JFS), Ahrar al-Sham and Suqour al-Sham. They remain the most effective and cohesive rebel force currently fighting in Aleppo. Whilst much is known about JFS and Ahrar al-Sham little is known about Suqour al-Sham or the Sham Falcons.

Suqour al-Sham was formed in 2011 after peaceful demonstrations failed and became a fully fledged armed rebellion. Its founder Ahmed Issa al-Sheikh or Abu Issa formed the battalion after the death of his two brothers by the regime. He belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood as were many opponents of the regime in the eighties, and had been imprisoned several times by the regime but not as is often assumed, in Seydnaya prison where Islamist prisoners were kept. Through the merger of local groups in the Idlib province Suqour al-Sham became a powerful opposition group. In its heyday it expanded as far as Damascus and Aleppo province. It was instrumental in forming the Syrian Islamic Liberation Front but left in 2013 to join the Islamic Front which was more in line with its vision. In fact, Ahmed Issa al-Sheikh became the leader of the Islamic Front which was able to field an estimated 40 000 to 70 000 fighting men.


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