Following up on a call by al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra for other Islamist factions to unite under their banner, several Syrian rebel groups have announced a separate Islamist leadership umbrella called the Islamic Front.
The group doesn’t include either al-Qaeda faction operating in Syria, but says they are open to cooperation with them. Combined, they amount to the largest rebel fighting force in northern Syria, as well as the largest in metro Damascus.
While on the surface it is just the latest in a growing number of would-be umbrella groups claiming to be the true representatives of a splintered rebellion, the group’s focus on fighting forces makes it more credible than most, and potentially more influential.
The group says that the long term goal of their movement is to replace Syrian President Bashar Assad, and form an Islamic state in the territory. It is unclear how much territory the group’s factions control outright.