A statement released by the coalition, known as the Levantine Front, confirmed on Friday evening that the Hazzm Movement, “along with all its components and members,” had now joined the umbrella group.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, a Syrian opposition source said it was likely the movement—one of the few remaining non-jihadist rebel groups in Syria—was seeking through its membership of the Levantine Front to protect itself from Al-Nusra, which has more arms and better-trained fighters than Hazzm.
Fighting has been raging between both groups since Thursday when the Al-Qaeda affiliate attacked Hazzm Movement positions in the cities of Aleppo and Idlib, where non-jihadist rebels such as Hazzm still have some presence on the ground.
The Al-Nusra Front said this was in retaliation to the Hazzm Movement kidnapping two of its fighters, but the source said the attack was more likely part of the group’s offensive to eliminate non-jihadist groups from the picture in Aleppo and Idlib.
“Those areas occupied by the Hazzm Movement, especially in northern Idlib, are therefore ideal locations to take,” the source added.
Al-Nusra has lost ground recently in Syria to the aerial bombardment campaign by a US-led coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and ISIS’s own advance across its territory.
The Levantine Front coalition, dominated by Islamist fighting groups such as the Islamic Front and the Jaysh Al-Islam, is “on good terms” with the Al-Qaeda affiliate, the source added, and therefore best-placed to act as mediator between both sides.
The statement from the coalition called on “all our brothers from all groups to resolve their differences with the Hazzm Movement via the Levantine Front’s leadership and its legal office.”
Mediation efforts are currently ongoing, the source said, and are taking place north of Aleppo, with representatives from both groups meeting with the leadership of the coalition.