The coalition's initial success has been attributed to its strong coherence, with the name of individual factions being forbidden when the group conducts joint operations.
Jaish al-Fatah declared its formation on 24 March 2015.
On the same day, a pro-opposition source claimed that about fifty Syrian government soldiers defected to the new group.
As columnist David Ignatius
, and Saudi Arabia were the primary sponsors of the new coalition that was led by al-Nusra.
Since the very beginning, the three states allegedly provided conspicuous material support to the group, mostly consisting of weapons and military equipment.
In 2016, shortly after al-Nusra changed its name in Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, Financial Times
reporter Erica Solomon quoted rebels and activists claiming that Qatar and Saudi Arabia were consistently ferrying in cash and supplies to support a military offensive in Aleppo directed by Jabhat Fatah al-Sham.
In general, over the past years Qatar’s support for the al-Nusra front has remained constant in spite of the group’s rebranding operation and several strategic alliances and mergers.
In fact, Qatar’s sponsorship for the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria was in line with Doha’s strategy to expand its regional influence by investing on the increasing role of key actors – including extremist and terrorist entities – in a number of international arenas.
The Army of Conquest captured Idlib City
on 28 March 2015.
In the following months, they spearheaded an offensive
that drove out government forces from almost all of Idlib Governorate.
Following this success, additional branches of the Army of Conquest were established in other parts of Syria.
Saudi cleric Abdullah al-Muhaysini
played a key role in the early history of the Army of Conquest. In fact, Muhayisini coordinated and supervised the establishment of the group, for which he also served as a religious judge and leader. He was targeted by U.S. Treasury Sanctions on 10 November 2016, for his role as mediator and recruiter on behalf of the al-Nusra Front.
Notably, Muhaysini also collected material and financial support for al-Nusra from the Gulf, especially, Qatar, and was known for his public endorsement of Qatar-based "Madid Ahl al-Sham
", a most effective fundraising campaign which al-Nusra itself acknowledged as "one of the preferred conduits for donations".
Expansion to other parts of Syria
In early May 2015, the Army of Conquest formed a new branch in Western Qalamoun
, called Army of Conquest – al-Qalamoun
On 1 October 2015, after defeats by pro-Assad forces, Army of Conquest in Qalamoun
was replaced by an independent faction called Saraya Ahl al-Sham
, which aims to unite all rebel factions in Western Qalamoun. However, the al-Nusra Front was not included in Saraya Ahl al-Sham, although the two groups continued to cooperate.
The following month, the al-Nusra Front issued a statement calling on the opposition in the Eastern Ghouta
area of Damascus to form a similar coalition,
but this call was rejected by the Unified Military Command of Eastern Ghouta
a grouping which includes the most prominent factions in the area.
In October 2015 Army of Conquest members al-Nusra Front and Ahrar ash-Sham (also a member of the Unified Military Command of Eastern Ghouta
), along with other groups formed Jund al-Malahm, an operations room in the Eastern Ghouta area of Damascus, in direct competition with the Unified Military Command of Eastern Ghouta operations room.
On 20 June, the Army of Conquest in the southern region
and immediately took part in the campaign in Quneitra
The coalition includes Ahrar al-Sham
, al-Nusra Front
, the Fatah al-Sham Coalition, Ihyaa al-Jihad Brigade, Mujahideen of Nawa
Gathering, Lions of Unity Brigade, Ansar al-Haq Brigade, and the Islamic Brigade of al- Omarein.
On July 2016, the al-Nusra Front renamed itself as Jabhat Fatah al-Sham
, restructured the group further, and began to create propaganda to support their offensives
across the Aleppo Governorate
On 23 October 2015, Jund al-Aqsa announced a split from Jaysh al-Fatah,
reportedly due to disagreements with Ahrar al-Sham over the application of Islamic law
in areas under their control. Following this development, there were unconfirmed reports that al-Nusra Front
, in an act of solidarity with Jund al-Aqsa, left the coalition,
or that Jund al-Aqsa would be rejoining Jaysh al-Fateh.
In January 2016, the Sham Legion announced it was leaving the group, ostensibly to redeploy its forces to Aleppo, but also due to tensions with Jund al-Aqsa.
On 9 October, Jund al-Aqsa
rejoined Al-Nusra Front, thus rejoining the Army of Conquest, though on 23 January 2017 they were kicked out of Al-Nusra and by extension the Army of Conquest.
On 23 January 2017, the al-Nusra Front attacked Jabhat Ahl al-Sham
bases in Atarib
and other towns in western Aleppo. All of their bases were captured and by 24 January, the group was defeated and joined Ahrar al-Sham
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Last edited on 7 May 2021, at 06:56
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