Harakat al-Hazm (the Hazm Movement), a secular, Western-backed rebel militia group, declared its self-dissolution following a series of serious clashes with Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda's affiliate group in Syria. Jabhat al-Nusra overran many key Hazm positions in late February and early March outside of Aleppo, looting weapons depots and killing dozens of Hazm militia fighters. Hazm was one of a limited number of organizations to receive direct Western and US support in countering both the Syrian army and more radical jihadi groups.
The group was founded in early 2014 through a conglomeration of several Free Syrian Army units and at its peak counted some 5,000 fighters in its ranks. It operated in northern Syria, primarily in the countrysides of Aleppo and Hassakeh. The remaining units of the Hazm Movement have pledged to join the Levant Front, an Islamist group that is also fighting both the Syrian regime and more extremist groups like al-Nusra and ISIS..
Last year, US Secretary of State John Kerry cited Harakat al-Hazm as one of the groups viable for receiving direct assistance. The militia was allegedly the first to receive US-made TOW anti-tank guided missiles, and there is great concern that such weaponry has now been seized by Jabhat al-Nusra. The US and other Western nations in conjunction with Turkey planned on providing training and assistance to thousands of moderate rebel fighters, but have consistently faced setbacks and difficulties in doing so. Western-backed groups are frequently targeted by extremist groups.Despite the Syrian civil war coming close to entering its fourth year, the West has failed thus far in finding and equipping an effective moderate opposition. The constant and dynamic changes in group alliances have underscored the complexity of the conflict, and such defeats have only served to strengthen the support of Jihadi groups such as al-Nusra. In January, the United Nations estimated well over 200,000 people have been killed in Syria since the inception of the armed conflict.