Al Nusrah Front claims 2 suicide attacks in Syria


Banner for the Al Nusrah Front, a jihadist group in Syria. Image from the SITE Intelligence Group.

The Al Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant, al Qaeda in Iraq’s affiliate in Syria, has claimed credit for two suicide attacks against the Syrian military that took place two weeks ago. The two suicide attacks are the first claimed by the terror group this year.

In a statement released on jihadist forums two days ago, the Al Nusrah Front, one of several jihadist groups in Syria battling the Assad regime, claimed credit for two suicide attacks that were conducted on Jan. 8. The statement was obtained and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.

Al Nusrah said the two suicide attacks, along with an assault on a military outpost and a remotely detonated car bomb, were launched in response to the “massacre committed against our people in the village of al-Mastumah” in Idlib province, according to SITE. Al Nusrah claimed that Syrian security forces had killed “nearly 100 from the Muslim public … and their houses and properties were burned and sanctities were violated.”

The terror group said that an outpost in Dawar al-Mutlaq was attacked by a suicide bomber known as Abu Omar al-Janubi. Another suicide bomber, identified as Abu al- Darda’a al-Shami, struck a group of soldiers at an outpost in the village of Nabigh Barakat. The Al Nusrah Front did not say how many soldiers were killed in either suicide attack.

The Al Nusrah Front has now claimed credit for 45 of the 54 suicide attacks that have taken place in Syria in the past 12 months.

Al Nusrah spearheads military assaults

Al Nusrah has also served as the vanguard for jihadist forces in the major attacks on Syrian military bases. In concert with allied jihadist groups such as the Ahrar al Sham, the Islamic Vanguard, Mujahedeen Shura Council, and the Muhajireen Group, the terror group has overrun three large Syrian installations since last fall.

On Jan. 11, Al Nusrah, Ahrar al Sham, and the Islamic Vanguard overran the Taftanaz airbase in Aleppo. The airbase was used by government forces to launch airstrikes on anti-regime forces. More than 60 helicopters operated from Taftanaz, and were deployed to attack nearby towns and cities as well as rebel forces.

On Dec. 10, 2012, the Al Nusrah Front, the Mujahedeen Shura Council, and the Muhajireen Group took control of the Sheikh Suleiman base, or Base 111. Arab and Chechen fighters participated in the assault on Sheikh Suleiman, which is said to be a key research facility linked to the regime’s chemical weapons program [see LWJ report, Al Nusrah Front, foreign jihadists seize key Syrian base in Aleppo].

And on Oct. 11, 2012, Al Nusrah, the supposedly secular Free Syrian Army, and Chechen fighters overran a Syrian air defense and Scud missile base in Aleppo [see LWJ report, Al Nusrah Front commanded Free Syrian Army unit, ‘Chechen emigrants,’ in assault on Syrian air defense base].

Al Nusrah is also leading a siege against a strategic base in Wadi Deif, which is also in the province of Idlib, and attempting to seize control of the main airport in Aleppo [see Threat Matrix report, Al Nusrah Front on the offensive in Aleppo].

The terror group has become one of the most powerful and effective units in the Syrian insurgency, and it has begun to absorb elements of the Free Syrian Army. The Al Nusrah Front also conducts joint operations with the Free Syrian Army and other supposedly secular groups, and has numerous foreign fighters in its ranks.

An al Qaeda affiliate

On Dec. 11, 2012, the US designated the Al Nusrah Front as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. The designation stated that the emir of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Du’a (a.k.a. Abu Bakr al Baghdadi al Husseini al Qurshi), “is in control of both AQI and Al Nusrah.”

At the same time, the US added two senior Al Nusrah leaders, Maysar Ali Musa Abdallah al Juburi and Anas Hasan Khattab, both members of al Qaeda in Iraq, to the list of global terrorists; the US did not add the emir of Al Nusrah, Sheikh Abu Muhammad al Julani, to the list, however. [See LWJ report, US adds Al Nusrah Front, 2 leaders to terrorism list, for information on the designation of the Al Nusrah Front and the two leaders.]

Despite Al Nusrah’s known affiliation with al Qaeda and its radical ideology, Syrian opposition groups, including the supposedly secular Syrian National Coalition, have rallied to support Al Nusrah. Immediately after the US designated Al Nusrah as a terrorist group, 29 Syrian opposition groups signed a petition that not only condemned the US’s designation, but said “we are all Al Nusrah,” and urged their supporters to raise Al Nusrah’s flag (which is the flag of al Qaeda) [see LWJ report, Syrian National Coalition urges US to drop Al Nusrah terrorism designation].

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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  • kafantaris says:

    We have become callous to the great suffering of the people of Syria — just as we had become callous to the great suffering of the Jews of Hitler’s Germany. History will be unkind.
    The heck with Russia and China — these two treat their own people no better.
    We need to act now in Syria. And we are already far too late — just as we were for the Jews.

  • Bill Baar says:

    Callous… I’m not sure more than a handful of us even know. For the first youtube covered war, it’s amazing how little Americans are aware of the immense suffering in Syria.

  • sundoesntrise says:

    The Nusra Front just yesterday in Hama attacked makeshift bases that militia forces were using – ironically enough, militia forces that were just formed by the government as a barrier of protection against the rebels attacking their neighborhoods.
    Intervening would risk a regional war. Russia does not want to lose the Assad regime because it is a major buyer of weaponry from Russia. And, the Russians do not want to lose their huge naval base on the Mediterranean coast. That is the last Russian base outside the former Soviet Union and they do not want to just give up strategic power to the United States or anybody else. Who would? Nobody, geopolitics is always about who barks the loudest and who has the most muscle to back it up.
    The regional war would draw in many countries in the region, and also potentially start off a catastrophic Shia-Sunni global battle once again. We don’t need that right now. The rebels are making vast gains anyway across Syria right now. It might take a while, but little by little, Assad’s grip on the country is relinquishing.

  • Paul T says:

    When are we going to drone strike Al-Nusrah?

  • sundoesntrise says:

    Bill Baar,
    That’s just the way the cookie crumbles. For all the hype and excitement about how much the Internet can do, it has done diddly squat in alleviating the sufferings of ordinary Syrians. Or other peoples around the world for that matter. The Internet in many ways is merely a reflection of how corrupt our world can get. Besides, who cares about bloodshed and destruction when you can go play Farmville on Facebook, or have your Twitter followers tell you how awesome you are????
    I’ve always believed the Internet should not be used as a “be all, end all” approach to fighting terrorism in the real world. I’m sure Mr. Roggio would concur with that. The Internet can be a useful source of data, yes, but physical action on the ground is the decisive, endgame, “be all end all” factor. Period.


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