Ahrar al-Sham raises "Syria Independence Flag" on Bab al-Hawa crossing

By Oliviero Reusser

On the evening of the 8th of July the group Ahrar al-Sham, one of the biggest armed factions fighting in the Syrian Civil War, raised the green two-star flag over the Bab al-Hawa crossing, which is under its control. It is suspected that the raising of this flag is also meant as a message to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which has recently made incursions into areas near the Turkish border, upsetting Ahrar al-Sham and other groups. 

In recent rebranding attempts, the militant group has also switched its official logo and flag to the green revolution flag. The groups logo seen below, which reads "The Islamic Front - Ahrar al-Sham", is still in use; the Syrian revolution flag has now been added and is mostly shown aswell.

Ahrar al-Sham logo

Ahrar al-Sham logo

The new flag was introduced during a speech held by its leader Ali al-Omar on June 22 on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr. Since then, most official Ahrar media channels have adopted the flag.

Interestingly and as pointed out by several social media users, an equally large white Shahada flag, showing the declaration of belief in the oneness of God and the acceptance of Muhammad as its prophet, can also be seen on the other side of the building. The white flag has been used in Syria by smaller groups and sympathisers of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the Taliban state of Afghanistan. The Shahada itself can be found in other countries flags, for example Saudi Arabia, and is also used by various Islamist and Jihadist groups all over the world.