The United States and Turkey imposed financial and economic sanctions on Abu Ahmed Zakour, a leader in Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), an armed faction in northern Syria, as Zakour is a main link for the HTS in the areas belonging to the Free Syrian Army, which is supported by Turkey.
For his part, Zakour denounced the sanctions, especially from the Turkish side, and he issued a statement denying that he was financially or economically responsible for HTS, stressing that he does not have a single dollar outside Syria.
The sanctions imposed by Turkey on Zakour are joint sanctions with the United States in the framework of combating terrorism, and they include freezing any financial assets he has in Turkey and preventing Turkish citizens and companies from dealing with him.
Who is he?
Abu Ahmed Zakour, whose original name is Jihad Isa al-Sheikh, is considered one of the most prominent leaders in HTS.
Zakour grew up in Aleppo in a strict tribal environment, receiving religious lessons from Mahmoud Qul Agassi, nicknamed Abu al-Qaqaa, who was working for the Syrian intelligence to recruit foreign fighters for Iraq.
He joined various terrorist groups and was responsible for coordinating facilities and needs for fighters crossing from Syria to Iraq.
In 2004, Zakour was arrested in Aleppo, but he was released after the outbreak of the Syrian revolution in 2011.
After his release from prison, he played a prominent role in encouraging HTS leader Abu Mohammed al-Julani to rebel against the attempts of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the former leader of ISIS who was killed in October 2019, to unite the Syrian jihadists under the banner of ISIS, urging him to pledge allegiance to al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri instead.
His relationship with the Khorasan Group
Zakour was not satisfied with that, as he established a working relationship with the so-called Khorasan Group, an external operations cell affiliated with HTS, which was originally loyal to the central al-Qaeda organization.
Zakour has carried out many terrorist practices, including accusations of him kidnapping and torturing civilians, seizing money and public property in the cities controlled by HTS, in addition to kidnapping children and conscripting them forcibly.