Most militant factions in Syria have started reappearing since August, amid a new wave of protests that affected scattered areas in the northern and eastern parts of the Arab country.
These areas have been prominent hotbeds of conflict since the eruption of violence in Syria in 2011.
Among the militant factions that have reappeared is Ansar al-Tawhid group which entered into armed confrontations with the Syrian army last August.
These confrontations were the most violent during the second half of this year.
They raise questions about the backgrounds, the activities and the areas of concentration of these factions.
Emergence of Ansar al-Tawhid
Ansar al-Tawhid appeared at the heart of the violent conflicts that flared up between Syrian armed factions between 2016 and 2018.
These conflicts witnessed grinding battles between Tahrir al-Sham and al-Aqsa Brigade in the countryside of Hama and Idlib.
They led to the death of dozens of people on both sides, especially in the massacre committed by al-Aqsa Brigade against over 70 elements of the armed factions in Khan Sheikhoun in the southern countryside of Idlib in February 2017.
Several days after that violent massacre, both al-Aqsa Brigade and Tahrir al-Sham reached a truce.
The terms of the truce included the exit of al-Aqsa Brigade towards the areas controlled by ISIS in Raqqa and the release of hostages from both parties.
In March 2018, some al-Aqsa Brigade fighters in the town of Sarmin announced the formation of a new armed faction under the name ‘Ansar al-Tawhid’.
It estimated the number of fighters in the new faction at 1,000.
Almost a month has passed since the announcement of the new faction.
Nonetheless, it has announced its merger with the Guardians of Religion, one of the most prominent Syrian armed factions loyal to al-Qaeda.
The new alliance was given the name Nusrat al-Islam Alliance.
The founding statement of the alliance stressed that its goal is to cooperate on righteousness and piety in order to establish the religion of Allah Almighty, apply Islamic law, and push enemies back.
At the end of 2018, Ansar al-Tawhid joined a new alliance, with the participation of the Guardians of Religion, Ansar al-Din and Ansar al-Islam.
These factions are all loyal to al-Qaeda. The new coalition is called the ‘Incite Muslims’ operations room.
The new entity aimed to target Syrian forces and the troops allied to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.