x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

In pictures: Former Saidnaya prisoners turned rebels

Former Saidnaya prisoners turned rebels

Zahran Aloush, commander of the Jaish Al Islam - the most powerful single rebel group fighting around Damascus - and head of the military front in the Islamic Front coalition. His brigade claims to have carried out the attack on the Syrian government’s national security headquarters in Damascus on July 18, 2012 that killed Asef Shawkat, Daoud Rajha and Hassan Turkmani.

Abu Musab Al Suri, a leading thinker among Islamic radicals and an opponent of the Assad dynasty, was reported as freed from Syrian regime custody in February 2012. He was initially captured in Pakistan and is believed to have been moved from there to Syria as part of the US secret rendition programme.

Ahmad Aisa Al Sheikh, commander of Suqour Al Sham and head of the Shura Council at the Jabha Islamiya, which was created on November 22, 2013. One of the most influential rebel commanders in Idlib province, commanding a brigade known for discipline and deep resources, it runs three field hospitals, a Sharia court, and a prison.

Hassan Aboud, leader the Syrian Islamic Front, an independent coalition of hardline Islamist groups in which Ahrar Al Sham, the movement he leads, is the largest and dominant faction. Some reports suggest ex-inmates of Saidnaya prison formed Ahrar Al Sham, after they were freed in early 2011. It has been involved in recent fighting against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Abu Adnan al Zabadani, Syrian Islamic Front. He fought US forces in Iraqi in 2008, was subsequently arrested by Syrian intelligence on his return and then freed from Saidnaya prison in late 2010.

Abdul Rahman Suweis of the Liwa Al Haq, a 47 year old former paratrooper officer in the Syrian armed forces, arrested in 1999 for membership of Hezb Al Tahrir. Spent 11 years in prison, released in an amnesty at the start of the uprising in 2011.

Abu Suleiman Al Kordi, the general Amir of the Tajamo’ Saraya Al Ansar in the eastern area, a former Saidnaya prisoner.

Abu Mohammad Al Jolani, the commander of Jabhat Al Nusra, is rumoured to have been among those set free from Saidnaya prison, although little is publicly known about his true identity and background. Some reports suggest he was held and freed by US forces in Iraq.

Sources:

Institute For the Study of War, Assafir newspaper (Lebanon), Joshua Landis website ‘Syria Comment’ and Aron Lund’s research for the Swedish Institute of International Affairs.