Abu Yahia al-Hamawi

Mohannad al-Masri (born 1981),[2][3][4] known by the alias Abu Yahia al-Hamawi,[2][3][4] (sometimes transliterated Abu Yahya al-Hamawi[5][6][7][8] or Abu Yehya al-Hamawi[9]) was the third leader of the Salafist Ahrar al-Sham during the Syrian Civil War.[10] He served from 12 September 2015[9][11] until his term ended in November 2016.

Abu Yahia al-Hamawi
Birth nameMohannad al-Masri
Born1981 (age 38–39)[1]
Qalaat al-Madiq, Hama, Syria
AllegianceAhrar al-Sham
Battles/warsSyrian Civil War


Al-Hamawi came from Qalaat al-Madiq, Hama, Syria. He trained as a civil engineer and studied at Tishreen University in Latakia.[2][3][4][6] He was with Hadi Al Abdullah who was a journalist during the civil war. He was an activist and an inmate of the "Islamist wing" of the Syrian government’s main political prison in Sednaya from 2007 to 2011. An article in the Toronto Star described him as a "political prisoner".[7] He was released in 2011, when the Syrian uprising began.[2][3][4][1]

He later became leader of the Osama bin Zeid Company, a militia based around his hometown of Qalaat al-Madiq, and then rose through the ranks to become leader of Ahrar al-Sham in September 2015.[10][1] According to Al-Monitor, the change is leadership is said to have made Ahrar Al-Sham "more palatable to the West" since al-Hamawi "is seen as someone who will fit the 'moderate Salafist' image Ahrar al-Sham wants to have".[8] According to The Daily Beast, al-Hamawi claimed that "Ahrar al-Sham was mainstream and aligned with Western interests."[12] In December 2015, al-Hamawi sent Labib al-Nahhas to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in order to participate in the Saudi-led rebel conference that produced the High Negotiations Committee (HNC).[12] Al-Hamawi has also falsely claimed that Al-Nusra had withdrawn from the Army of Conquest.[12]

His term as leader could have been extended,[13] but the Shura Council of Ahrar al-Sham appointed Ali al-Omar as leader in November 2016.[14]


  1. ^ a b c http://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/commentary/565927-ahrar-al-sham-a-new-leader-without-a-new-agenda
  2. ^ a b c d Pugliese, David (13 September 2015). "War on the Islamic State – Russian forces expanding airport in Syria in preparation for new military base". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 18 April 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d El Deeb, Sarah (14 September 2015). "Syria group: Russia expanding major Syrian airport". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 18 April 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d "Russia expanding major Syrian airport, monitor reports". The Japan Times. 14 September 2015. Retrieved 18 April 2017.
  5. ^ Mroue, Bassem (8 October 2015). "Syrian militant group gaining influence after rebranding as moderate option". CTV News. Retrieved 18 April 2017.
  6. ^ a b Karouny, Mariam (22 September 2015). "Resilient insurgent group Ahrar al-Sham to play bigger role in Syria". Reuters. Retrieved 18 April 2017.
  7. ^ a b Ward, Olivia (5 July 2016). "Syrian rebels carry out reign of terror in north: Amnesty". Toronto Star. Retrieved 18 April 2017.
  8. ^ a b Tastekin, Fehim (30 September 2015). "Davutoglu proposes refugee 'container city'". Al-Monitor. Retrieved 18 April 2017.
  9. ^ a b Heller, Sam (30 September 2015). "Ahrar Al-Sham's Revisionist Jihadism". War on the Rocks. Retrieved 18 April 2017.
  10. ^ a b Lund, Aron (12 September 2015). "Abu Yahia al-Hamawi, Ahrar al-Sham's New Leader". Syria Comment. Retrieved 1 October 2015.
  11. ^ Aron Lund on Twitter
  12. ^ a b c Decina, Alexander (1 March 2016). "In the Syrian Ceasefire Shell Game, the Good Guys May Be Bad Guys". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 18 April 2017.
  13. ^ "Sources to Qasioun: Ahrar Alsham movement looking for new leader". Qasioun News. 10 November 2016. Retrieved 30 November 2016.
  14. ^ El Deeb, Sarah (30 November 2016). "The Latest: Turkey says 2 soldiers missing in Syria". AP. Retrieved 30 November 2016.