Syria: Army of Islam Continues to Expand
A commander from the armed rebels unit, operating in the mountainous region of Al Kabon west of Damascus, has recently announced his enlistment into the "Army of Islam," a new military coalition comprised of 50 or more rebel combat units seeking to topple Syrian President Bashar Al Assad.
A ceremony was held to express their loyalty to one another and to demonstrate their military power which boasts tanks, armored personnel carriers, a number of vehicles with mounted heavy machine guns, and fighters armed with light weapons.
The "Army of Islam," under the leadership of Sheikh Mohammed Zahran, are seeking to build their position as a major force in Syria and recruit fighters to join their ranks in order to officially establish a political platform.
The Al-Qaeda affiliated group Al-Nusra, along with ideologically similar groups such as Ahrar el-Sham, did not join the "Army of Islam," despite sharing its goal of toppling Assad and instituting Sharia (Islamic law) in Syria.
The tension between various rebel factions has even led to out-and-out combat. Forces from Al-Nusra recently clashed with Kurdish militias over control of local gas resources and over the institution of Sharia law in Kurdish areas.
Rival Al Qaeda factions have also clashed in recent weeks.
Despite the infighting among Syrian rebels, the various rebel armies continue to hold control over much of Syria, particularly in the Kurdish regions to the north and in villages around the cities of Aleppo, Hama, Homs and Damascus.
The rebels have won an important military achievement in recent days after capturing the base of the air defense battalion in Daraa after a long battle.