Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate seizes control of another town

The Al Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant, al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, continues to steamroll over President Bashir al Assad’s forces in eastern Syria. After taking control of a dam, a city, and a military base just days ago, the terror group seized control of the town of al-Shadadi in the northeastern province of Hasakah today. Five foreign jihadists were among those reported killed.

“Rebel fighters from Jabhat al Nusrah have taken almost full control over the city of al-Shadadi, after violent clashes that lasted for 3 days,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on its Facebook page.

The Observatory, which closely tracks the Syrian civil war, stated that the Al Nusrah Front “used several suicide car bombs during the 3 days of fighting.”

More than 30 Al Nusrah Front fighters, including five “non-Syrian fighters,” and 100 Syrian security personnel were killed in the fighting. Additionally, “tens of civilian workers at the Syrian oil company were killed after Al Nusrah fighters took large parts of the oil fields and the residential quarters of the workers.”

The Observatory said the five foreign Al Nusrah Front fighters “were Kuwaiti and Iraqi.”

Foreign fighters are known to play a significant role in the Al Nusrah Front. Jordanians, Iraqis, North Africans, and Russians from the Caucasus are known to fight in the ranks of the Al Nusrah Front. The Al Nusrah Front is an affiliate of al Qaeda in Iraq, and is commanded by Abu Du’a, AQI’s emir, according to the US State Department.

The Observatory also published a video of Al Nusrah Front fighters celebrating in al-Shadadi. The fighters chant “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greatest) and “Nusrah, Nusrah, Nusrah.” Bodies of dead Syrian security personnel are also shown as the cameraman walks through a compound.

The Al Nusrah Front’s takeover of al-Shadadi is the latest in a string of successes by the al Qaeda affiliate this week. Yesterday, Al Nusrah took control of the headquarters of the Syrian Army’s 80th Regiment headquarters in Aleppo. Earlier this week, the Ahrar al Sham Brigades, another jihadist group, and the Al Nusrah Front took control of the al-Jarrah airbase in Thawra. Operational Syrian military aircraft were seized by the jihadists during the assault. In addition, the Al Nusrah Front led other Islamist groups in taking over Syria’s largest dam, which is also located in Thawra. [For more information on the Al Nusrah Front’s recent military successes, see LWJ report, Al Nusrah Front, foreign jihadists overrun another Syrian military base]

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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  • Will Fenwick says:

    Which city are you referring to above that they had previously taken over? Are they openly governing areas they sieze or are they simply advancing and leaving governance to the FSA?

  • mike merlo says:

    where are the Iranian’s, Lebanese(Hezbollah) & the Shia from Iraq & the Arabian peninsula?

  • Nimrod Pasha says:

    The FSA is longer really very relevant on the ground in Syria (to the extent that it eve was) having been displaced as the mainstream face of the insurgency by the Islamist nationalist Syrian Liberation Front (Jabhat Tahrir al-Suriyyah) and the Islamist Syrian Islamic Liberation Front (Jabhat Tahrir al-Suriyyah al-Islamiyyah). At this point the FSA military command is simply an empty shell of former regime military officers and intelligence apparachiks with little control over the insurgency. Interestingly enough, this closely mirrors (down to the timescale) the process in Iraq were the Baathist remnant insurgent groups that dominated the insurgency in 2003 were displaced by Sunni nationalist groups like the Jaysh al-Islami Iraq and the 1920s Brigades with financial backing from the Gulf, and eventually by AQI’s attempt to seize control of the insurgency.
    The Syrian news blog Syria Comment recently ran a series of interesting and informative posts detailing this trend, and they are well worth a look.


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