Al Nusrah Front raises al Qaeda’s flag in Aleppo

The Syrian Observator for Human Rights, which tracks Syria’s civil war, today published the video above that shows members of the Al Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant, al Qaeda’s affilate in Syria, raising the black flag of jihad in an Aleppo neighborhood. From the SOHR’s Facebook page:

Aleppo province: Islamist activists in the Tariq al-Bab neighbourhood of Aleppo have taken down the Syrian revolution flags and threw them to the ground, putting in their place the flag of Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham. Local civil activists have voiced much anger as a result.

The raising of al Qaeda’s flag in Aleppo is not surpising. By early 2013, the Al Nusrah Front had imposed sharia, or Islamic law, in Aleppo. The Nusrah Front is also in control of vast areas of eastern Syria, including Raqqah, a provincial capital, and has imposed sharia there as well.

The video of the Al Nusrah Front raising its flag appears just two days after al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri again implored Muslims to wage jihad in Syria. From Zawahiri’s speech, which was released on jihadist forums and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group:

O lions of Islam in the Levant of garrison and jihad: There is hope to bring back Palestine, which was usurped from us 65 years ago, with your blessed jihad. So, O Ummah of Islam and its free and honorable people, if you want the Caliphate to return, then deploy to the Levant. If you want to establish Shariah-based governance, then deploy to the Levant. If you to liberate Palestine, then deploy to the Levant. If you want to extirpate the corrupt rulers, then deploy to the Levant. If you want to resist America, then deploy to the Levant. And if you want to stand against the Iranian Safavid expansion, then deploy to the Levant. Deploy with yourselves, monies, experiences and knowledge.

Make no mistake: Syria has become a prime front for al Qaeda. The Al Nusrah Front was estimated by the US government to have had more than 10,000 fighters at the end of last year; this number doesn’t include the more than 3,000 Free Syrian Army fighters who have defected to the Al Nusrah Front as of the beginning of May. And it doesn’t include the Muhajireen Army, which is led by a Chechen commander and is closely allied to the Al Nusrah Front.

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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7 Comments

  • mike merlo says:

    Great stuff. ‘Hollywood’ couldn’t have scripted ‘this’ better. Now if only those ‘Fumblelina’s’ in the US Intel & Spec Ops Community are savvy enough to provide the Syrian protagonist’s with just enough material to maintain this ‘spectacle’ without any of them ‘Ruling the Roost’ any time soon.
    “Tis charg’d upon me that I make debauch’d persons … my protagonists, or the chief persons of the drama.”
    John Dryden

  • o3 says:

    when enemies fight each other, stay outta the middle

  • Chris says:

    Good job arming the moderates to keep elements like this out of the Syrian forefront Obama.
    Oh wait, you actually never gave the moderates arms.
    Meanwhile the Qataris already gave their boys everything in the world they desires.

  • Stephanie says:

    EXAAAAAAAAAAAAACTLY why the U.S. should NOT get involved in Syria. 🙂 I hope the Obama administration has their eyes open.

  • Stephanie says:

    And is it just me or does Ayman al-Zawahiri keep saying the same things over and over again in every video? I think he has nothing new to say. Sounds like more hot air.

  • Frank Dunn says:

    Obama: Al Qaeda is on ‘a path to defeat’; calls for resetting terror policy
    //www.washingtontimes.com/…/obama-al-qaeda-is-on-a-path-to-def...
    by Susan Crabtree – in 20 Google+ circles
    May 23, 2013 – President Obama said Thursday that al Qaeda is nearly defeated and the war on terrorism has changed since he took office, and that demands …
    Obama never mentioned that Al-Qaeda was “on the run” to Syria, Mali, Yemen and elsewhere. Perhaps that oft cited video has been turned into a TV series, with multiple episodes in production.

  • wallbangr says:

    Apparently, that wasn’t all Zawhiri had to say:
    Zawahri Steps Into Row Between Syrian and Iraqi Al Qaeda Wings [from Reuters]:
    //www.reuters.com/article/2013/06/10/us-syria-crisis-iraq-zawahri-idUSBRE9590AS20130610
    He is essentially saying, “stop the bickering among yourselves and fight the enemy (which is now, ironically, Hezbollah).” Sounds like this confirms reports of a split in the opposition forces, but that ZW is trying to quash it immediately.

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