In the video above, the Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s branch in Syria, showcases recent battles in Quneitra governorate. Al Nusrah is claiming to have “liberated the town of ar-Rawadi and the village of Humaydia and entering the city of Jabatha.” Al Nusrah did so with the help of some familiar allies, however.
The Islamic Front, an alliance of several Islamist groups in Syria, also took part in the fighting in Quneitra. In a video posted on YouTube, it appears Ahrar al Sham assisted the forces in taking the various villages and towns in the southern Syria governorate. The video (posted below) shows a leader in Ahrar al Sham explaining the group’s part in the fighting.
The leader says that Ahrar “liberated the towns of al-Humaydia and Jabatha al-Khashab” in Quneitra countryside.
The most interesting thing, however, is that the Syrian Revolutionaries Front (SRF) again assisted the Islamic Front and Al Nusrah in Quneitra. Much like the Islamic Front and Al Nusrah, the SRF has also been disseminating videos and tweets celebrating the victory over the forces of the Assad regime on various social media platforms. In the video posted below, the SRF shows some of its fighters taking part in the action in al-Humaydia.
The SRF, which is supplied and backed by the United States, continues to fight alongside the Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria. While it is unclear whether they share the same ideology, it is still worth noting that a Western-backed force works in conjunction with al Qaeda. The Long War Journal has previously noted that the leader of the SRF, Jamal Maarouf, has stated that he has no problem with al Qaeda and that they have shared weapons in the past.
As Threat Matrix has pointed out in the past, Maarouf has said the following about his association with al Qaeda:
“It’s clear that I’m not fighting against al-Qa’ida. This is a problem outside of Syria’s border, so it’s not our problem. I don’t have a problem with anyone who fights against the regime inside Syria.” Maarouf admits to fighting alongside Jabhat al-Nusra – one example being the offensive against Isis, whose brutal tactics were deemed too violent even for al-Qa’ida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.
While Maarouf maintains that their military supplies are too few to share, he cites the battle of Yabroud, against the regime, as an example of how his group shared weapons with Al Nusrah.
“If the people who support us tell us to send weapons to another group, we send them. They asked us a month ago to send weapons to Yabroud so we sent a lot of weapons there. When they asked us to do this, we do it.”
In August, the SRF worked with these very same forces to take the border crossing with the Israeli-held Golan Heights. It is clear that SRF’s alliance with al Qaeda-linked forces is continuing to this very day.
Caleb is a political science student focusing on the Middle East.