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Syria rebels arrest renowned fighter over 'mocking Instagram posts' Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Syria rebels arrest renowned fighter over 'mocking Instagram posts'

Tahrir al-Sham is a rebel alliance that includes former al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat Fateh al-Sham [Instagram]

Date of publication: 5 May, 2017

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The extremist Hayaat Tahrir al-Sham Syrian rebel alliance arrested on Monday well-known opposition fighter 'Abu TOW' after he posted images online making fun of them.

The extremist Hayaat Tahrir al-Sham Syrian rebel alliance arrested on Monday well-known opposition fighter "Abu TOW" after he posted images online making fun of them.

Suhail Hammoud, known by his nickname Abu TOW, is a well-known anti-tank gunner who defected from the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and joined the Free Syrian Army in 2011.

US-made anti-tank guided missiles (known as TOW) were first supplied to rebels in 2014, since then Hammoud has made a name of himself for his talent at taking out regime armoured vehicles.

"Abu TOW had been threatened several times before he was arrested by HTS forces close to his home in Idlib," a local source told The New Arab.

The source said that it was likely that Hammoud had been arrested for a series of images he posted on his Instagram account poking fun of the extremists' harsh regulations.

In one image he smoked a cigarette in front of a billboard put by HTC, warning people that "smoking shisha is haram".

The famous TOW operator smiles in one picture that encourages men to grow their beards long.

In another, he had duct-taped his mouth shut in front of a sign, reading: "No to a truce because it is sedition".

Aside from the guidance packards, the recently formed rebel alliance HTS has launched a media campaign, warning rebels to avoid "cursing God".

In January 2017, fighting erupted between former al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat Fateh al-Sham militants and members of other rebel groups for regional influence.

The Syrian opposition split into two factions, one opposed to any talks with the Assad regime that included Fateh al-Sham and took the name Tahrir al-Sham, and others that were willing to join talks, and who allied themselves with the Salafist group Ahrar al-Sham.

Word of Abu TOW's arrest sparked a street protest on Thursday in the northwestern city of Azaz.

"The Syrian revolution will not end up trading a tyrannic secular regime for a tyrannic religious regime," one protester said.

"I want to send a message to those with bogus slogans and false beards: Stop persecuting the free Syrians who came out against Assad," he added.

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