Suicide bombers kills 20 Syrian troops

A pair of suicide bombers killed an estimated 20 Syrian soldiers in an attack in the city of Daraa, near the Jordanian border. Today’s suicide attack is the 40th of its kind in Syria in less than a year.

The suicide bombers attacked a military camp in Daraa that is used by the military and intelligence forces fighting for Syrian President Bashir al Assad. Members of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told Al Jazeera and Reuters that the dual suicide attack was followed up with mortars and gunfire.

The Syrian Arab News Agency, the state-run news service loyal to Assad, claimed that “terrorists on Saturday detonated three car bombs in the city of Daraa, causing the martyrdom of 7 citizens.” SANA claimed that the bombings took place in two separate areas, against civilians.

The suicide attack is the second reported in Syria in the past week. On Nov. 5, a suicide bomber reportedly killed 50 Syrian soldiers in an attack on a military base in Hama in the north.

No terrorist group has claimed credit for today’s suicide attack in Daraa or Monday’s bombing in Hama.

Several Islamist groups operate in Syria, including the Al Nusrah Front, Al Qaeda in Iraq, the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, the Al Baraa Ibn Malik Martyrdom Brigade, and the Omar al Farouq Brigade.

The al Qaeda-linked Al Nusrah Front has been the most active in Syria. It has claimed credit for 31 of the 40 known suicide bombings in Syria that the The Long War Journal has tallied since December 2011. Since the end of August, Al Nusrah has claimed credit for launching 13 suicide attacks. For more information on the suicide attacks in Syria, see LWJ report, Suicide bombings become commonplace in Syria , and Threat Matrix report Al Nusrah Front claims 4 more suicide attacks in Syria.

The Al Nusrah Front is known to conduct joint operations with the Free Syrian Army, which is often upheld as the secular resistance to Assad’s regime. Recently, on Oct. 11, Al Nusrah, the Free Syrian Army, and Chechen fighters overran a Syrian air defense and Scud missile base in Aleppo. Al Nusrah has become more appealing to Syrian rebels as the group’s fighters are better organized and have expertise from waging jihad in Iraq and elsewhere, and have integrated their operations with the Free Syrian Army.

Foreign jihadists have begun to pour into Syria to wage jihad against Assad’s regime. Fighters from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinian Territories are known to have been killed in Syria. Recently, two of Abu Musab al Zarqawi’s cousins were detained by Jordanian security forces after fighting in Syria.

Jihadists from the UK may be flocking to the Syrian battlefields as well. In mid-October, The Times reported that authorities had identified a Bangladeshi resident of London as the leader of a group of British jihadists seeking to fight in Syria. Scotland Yard has seized computers and mobile phones from members of the group, which consists mainly of Londoners and includes seasoned Chechen fighters.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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