Ahrar Al-Sham militants in Syria.
The largest Islamist rebel faction operating in Syria – Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham – has issued a statement [pictured below left] following their participation in the Riyadh peace conference
This statement expressed Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham’s satisfaction with the meeting and its participants; it also thanked the Saudi’s for hosting the conference.
Perhaps the most important part of the statement delivered by the Islamist group was the list of demands that expressed their overall objective in Syria.
According to their statement, Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham has issued a list of demands:
1. All Iranian and Russian military personnel must leave Syria.
2.The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) should be disbanded, along with their paramilitary units – they reference the Shabiha.
3. All of Syria shall be united – no partition.
4. Syria will become an Islamic state.
5. No negotiations with the Syrian Government.
6. Fighting ISIS is secondary because rebels have lost family members because of the war with the Syrian Army.
7. Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham asserts – once again – that Syria will be an Islamic state.
8. A secular Syria will only empower ISIS.
9. Any agreement without Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham will be considered “unsuccessful” and “unofficial”.
Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham has attempted to garner support as a “moderate” rebel group; however, their statement from Riyadh begs to differ.
The Army of Conquest, a coalition of Islamist groups openly supported by Saudi Arabia and Turkey, have introduced a string of Shariah law to be implemented in Northern Aleppo [edict pictured below right].
The main signatories to these laws were Al-Nusra, Fajr Al-Khilafa, Jabhat al-Shamiya and Ahrar al-Sham among many others. Ahrar ash-Sham have been an internet sensation the last few days with a propaganda video that seemed to portray the execution of ISIS prisoners before stopping and forgiving them. This has led to Westerners calling the Islamist group as just mere opposition forces [see related OffGuardian post].
The laws implemented include the banning of cross gender teacher and student classrooms. Effectively a male teacher cannot lecture a female teacher and vice-versa.
Dress codes will be enforced in schools, hospitals and all forms of public life. Females will be prohibited from being uncovered and those who do not adhere will be brought before a Shariah court and judged in accordance with those laws.
This will be enacted by a committee for vice and virtue who will supervise and ensure these new laws.
The West, Saudi Arabia and Turkey portray The Army of Conquest as moderate opposition forces to the Assad government and often overlook it as a coalition of mostly Islamist groups including Al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria, Al-Nusra Front, and Ahrar ash-Sham.