Islamist Rebel Blocs Spin Syrian Civil War as ‘Jihad’

Salafist Faction Blasts Non-Religious Rebels in Leaflets

As Syria’s bloody civil war escalates, the Islamist nature of a number of rebel factions becomes more and more apparent, and the divide between the al-Qaeda linked Salafist rebel blocs and the secular rebel blocs becomes pronounced.

Ahrar al-Sham, one of the Salafist factions fighting in the largest city of Aleppo, has been handing out leaflets to locals in rebel-held portions of the city trying to explain to them the difference between their fighters and the secular factions, which they blamed for the excesses and rebel attacks on civilians.

The group is spurning the label of “thowar,” or revolutionary, which has been adopted by so many others, and instead is insisting they are religious warriors fighting a jihad, religious war, against the Alawite-dominated Assad government.

The sectarian nature of the war has been apparent for some time, as Sunnis flock to the rebel side and various religious minorities fret the survival of their communities and fighters openly talk of setting up a theocracy.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of