ALEPPO, Syria — Islamist opposition movements Ahrar al-Sham and Nureddin Zengi Brigade joined forces Feb. 18, forming a unified body called the Syrian Liberation Front. The announcement by two of the largest opposition factions operating in northern Syria follows weeks of consultations between the factions’ senior leaders.
The movements' decision to unite grew out of concern involving elevated tensions between Free Syrian Army factions and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) in the north of Syria. HTS has been fighting Ahrar al-Sham and Nureddin Zengi Brigade after the two group's supporters accused HTS of failing to counter the regime’s assault on the Idlib countryside in early 2018. Prior to the unification, clashes had erupted between HTS and the Nureddin Zengi Brigade in November 2017 and between HTS and Ahrar al-Sham in August 2017. Mediation efforts in November by independent figures and clerics failed to reconcile the warring parties.