Canada’s CBC reported Monday that Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (The Organisation for Liberation in the Levant – HTS), the former al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria originally known as Jabhat al-Nusra, is not listed in the US or Canada’s terrorist organisations list.
The group had changed its name to Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (Front for the Conquest of the Levant) in 2016 but remained in the US State Department’s list of designated foreign terrorist organisations. Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham was formed in January 2017 when Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (formerly the al-Nusra front) decided to merge with other jihadist groups fighting in Syria such as the Nour ed-Dine Zenki Brigade or the Liwa al-Haqq among others.
Jabhat al-Nusra had been in the United States’ terror list since 2012 as the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda. The US State Department confirmed to CBC News that HTS members are no longer considered terrorists. “Though closely affiliated with al-Nusra, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham is not a designated terrorist organisation,” said Nicole Thompson, a State Department spokesperson, to CBC News in an email. “The statement you found should have said al-Nusra Front and has been corrected” she added, referring to a previous State Department statement from March in Arabic that listed HTS as a terrorist group.
Muhammad al-Jawlani (aka Muhammad al-Julani) the military leader of the group however, remains in the US Specially Designated Global Terrorists List and the US government posted a $10 million reward for him.