Ahrar al-Sharqiyah

Introduction

Ahrar al-Sharqiyah is a militia associated with the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA), which Turkey relied on to support its 2019 incursion into northeast Syria.* The group has been accused of human rights violations, including the murder of Syrian Kurdish politician Hevrin Khalaf at a checkpoint during the 2019 invasion.* Ahrar al-Sharqiyah members have also been accused of engaging “in abductions, torture, and seizures of private property from civilians, barring displaced Syrians from returning to their homes,” and the murder of predominantly Kurdish civilians.* The group and two of its leaders were sanctioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury in July 2021.* Ahrar al-Sharqiyah announced its formation in January 2016. * The group composes the 123rd Brigade of the First Legion of the SNA and has training camps in Aleppo Province in the Rajo district, in the city of al-Bab, and in al-Rai.*

Leadership

Abu Hatem Shaqra is the current commander of the group and was personally sanctioned at the same time his group was designated a terrorist group.* Shaqra met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan after the completion of Operation Euphrates Shield.* Abu Jaafer Shaqra, who acts as the group’s military commander, was also sanctioned.*

Base of Operations

Aleppo countryside, Syria*

Website

N/A

Membership Size and Relevance

In its early phases, the group resided in Idlib, Latakia, and western Aleppo but was active mainly in northern Aleppo. * In November 2018, Ahrar al-Sharqiyah claimed to have 5,000 fighters after losing 500 members in a battle with ISIS. *

Recruitment and Propaganda

Most of the members of the militia are from eastern Syria in Deir Ez Zor province and fled when ISIS took over. * The group also absorbed many members and leaders from Ahrar al-Sham. *

Violent Activities

Rhetoric

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

Fact:

On February 26, 2015, a Boko Haram suicide bomber detonated his explosives near a market in Biu, Nigeria, killing 19 people and injuring 20 others. A second attempted-suicide bomber was caught and beaten by a crowd before he was able to carry out his attack.

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