BEIRUT, LEBANON (4:45 A.M.) – The Ahrar al-Sham Islamist group published a statement three days ago (see below) saying that its council had appointed Hassan Soufan (also known as Abu al-Bara’) as the new leader of the militia. Hassan Soufan will be replacing Ali Omar (also known as Abu Ammar) in the role of leader of Ahrar al-Sham.
Hassan Soufan originates from Latakia Governorate and up until last year he was serving out a very long sentence in Sidnaiyah prison for anti-government activities. He was released after fifteen years in late-December 2016 as part of a prisoner swap deal between the Syrian government and various Idlib-based rebel groups.
Soufan inherits the leadership role for Ahrar al-Sham during a time of considerable hardship for the Syrian Islamist militia, with it having been subject to considerable political and military marginalization in Idlib (one of its main strongholds) at the hands of the Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) jihadist group.