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Syria: Failure to Unite Extremist Factions Opens Door to Alternative Options - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Beirut – The plan to merge extremist Islamic factions with moderate ones operating in north Syria has not seen light — Ahrar al-Sham and Noureddine Zanki movements stepped back in the project that aims to launch a new entity of 13 factions, a majority of extremist factions.

Reliable Syrian opposition sources reported to Asharq al-Awsat that regional and international pressures were exerted to hinder the integration because factions’ unity with Jabhat al-Nusra will include them all under the umbrella of terrorism.

Sources asserted that the Turks and forces supporting armed opposition put pressure on Ahrar al-Sham that was already undergoing an internal struggle regarding the topic – this caused a delay in the project before it totally collapsed when Ahrar al-Sham withdrew from it.

According to sources, Jabhat al-Nusra pressured in favor of integration because this would mean appointing Abu Mohammad al-Julani as a general military leader.

Member of the National Coalition of Syria Ahmed Ramadan attributed the failure of factions’ integration to their inability to agree upon a national program that was originally the reason behind the revolution.

“Some individuals who have weird perception of the Syrian community have sneaked into factions and pushed them to drift towards extremism and exaggerations as well as misunderstanding the priorities of the struggle,” Ramadan told Asharq al-Awsat.

He considered the role played by supporting members, groups and countries a negative one because it pushed factions into extremism and unwillingness to unite under a national umbrella.

Ramadan highlighted the Syrian revolution need for a new strategy amidst current conditions, elaborating that this strategy is being prepared without excluding the military aspect in which one national Syrian army is formed and spread in the liberated regions and popular resistance units are lined up and headed by one leader.