Ansar al-Tawhid (AaT)


Ansar al-Tawhid (AaT) is a small group that formed in 2018 after HTS defeated the extremist militant ISIS-aligned faction Jund al-Aqsa. * From 2018 to 2020 AaT worked closely with Hurras al-Din (HaD) and other small pro-al-Qaeda factions, and while it has been accused of being an al-Qaeda front, the group never pledged loyalty to al-Qaeda.* In August 2019, U.S. forces destroyed an AaT safehouse in Idlib, killing 30 members of the group, including eight children, and wounding 36 others.* Local journalists allege that the group does not maintain the same level of extremist ideology as its predecessor, Jund al-Aqsa, which wavered between supporting al-Qaeda and ISIS, since the more extremist Jund al-Aqsa veterans were either killed or expelled from Idlib.* In May 2020, AaT announced that it was leaving the HaD operations room, stressing that it is an “independent group that is not bound by an external or internal organizational pledge, whether secret or public,” a likely reference to long-standing allegations of its ties to al-Qaeda.* This defection came amid mounting concerns from independent extremist factions in Idlib that HTS would soon conduct military operations against HaD and its allies, and was likely initiated in order to distance AaT from Hurras.* Indeed, AaT’s exit from the HaD sphere of influence was due to heavy pressure from HTS, which soon after crushed HaD and its remaining allies through military force. * HTS then purged AaT of the remaining extremist elements, killing or arresting them, and assigned the faction a new leader who was trusted by the HTS leadership.* AaT has since been folded into the HTS military wing.*


Abu Diab Sarmin (leader)*

Base of Operations

Idlib province in Syria*



Membership Size and Relevance

AaT reportedly had approximately 700 fighters in early 2021.* The group joined the first HaD-led operations room, “Hilf Nusrat al-Islam,” shortly after both groups were officially formed in 2018.* AaT then joined the subsequent HaD-led operations room “Incite the Believers,” alongside Ansar al Din and Ansar al Islam.* AaT drew its membership from former Jund al-Aqsa fighters and, like Jund al-Aqsa and HaD, many of these men remained loyal to al-Qaeda.* However, HTS”s 2020 intervention and subsequent purging and reorganization of the group allegedly severed any remaining ties the current members have to either extremist organization.* This allegation is supported by the fact that HTS speaks highly of AaT today, while still seeking out and killing and arresting ISIS and al-Qaeda cells in Idlib.*

Recruitment and Propaganda

Like other factions, AaT publishes pictures and videos of the battles it participates in on Telegram, regularly framing its activities as centered on the broader fight against the Syrian regime, Iran, and Russia.*

Violent Activities

The group participated heavily in defensive operations in southern Idlib from 2018 through 2020, fighting alongside HaD, TIP, and HTS, and utilizing both small arms and heavy artillery.* AaT shelled a regime military headquarters in Kafr Nabl in February 2021, violating the Turkey-Russia ceasefire that had been in place since March 2020.*


January 2020: AaT publishes several photosets over the course of the month of its fighters “targeting the Nusayri Army” using an anti-Alawite pejorative.*

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.


On May 8, 2019, Taliban insurgents detonated an explosive-laden vehicle and then broke into American NGO Counterpart International’s offices in Kabul. At least seven people were killed and 24 were injured.

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