Al Nusrah Front suicide bombers attack bridge, base in Homs

Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, the Al Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant, has claimed credit for two suicide attacks that took place outside of the city of Homs on March 6. The two separate attacks targeted a bridge and a “barrier” (or outpost) just outside the city. The attack on the outpost also included a follow-on assault by Al Nusrah fighters.

The attacks were first reported on March 7 by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which closely monitors the Syrian civil war [see LWJ report, Al Nusrah Front seizes control of Syrian city of Raqqah]. On March 17, the Al Nusrah Front claimed credit for the two suicide attacks in a series of statements released on jihadist forums as well as its Twitter page. The statement, which has been excerpted below, has been obtained and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group:

The first was carried out by the heroic martyrdom-seeker Abu Bakr al-Makhzumi, may Allah accept him, on the al-Khalidiyya bridge, where the herds of the army and the shabiha [thugs] are concentrated. It made them into ash and showered them with rocks and destroyed a large part of the bridge to cut off the road connecting Homs and Tartus, which is a main road for supplies for the army that is besieging our people in Homs.

Only seconds later, the heroic martyrdom-seeker Abu ‘Aisha al-Khalidi, from Bani Khalid, may Allah accept him, detonated his truck at the Kasir al-‘Aji barrier, which is a gathering place for the [thugs] that was always harming Muslims. So it shook the ground beneath their feet and turned it into rubble above them. Then, the heroes of the Front advanced, combing what remained of the two barriers, and gained some of the weapons. Our brothers from the rest of the brigades participated in operations of advancement and positioning, and all praise and gratitude are due to Allah.

Note that in the second attack, the Al Nusrah Front said that “brothers from the rest of the brigades participated in operations of advancement and positioning.” This is very likely a reference to allied Islamist groups such at the Muhajireen Brigade or Ahrar al Sham, or supposedly secular fighters from groups such at the Free Syrian Army. The Al Nusrah Front, which is the most effective fighting force in Syria, often serves as the vanguard for attacks as well as the command and control element when anti-regime forces team up for attacks.

The Al Nusrah Front has now claimed credit for 57 of the 67 suicide attacks that have taken place in Syria since December 2011, according to a tally by The Long War Journal (note that multiple suicide bombers deployed in a single operation are counted as part of a single attack). So far this year, 15 suicide attacks have been reported in Syria; Al Nusrah has claimed credit for 14 of them.

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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