While denying rumors of a purported meeting between the US and the newly formed Islamic Front, a Syrian jihadist group that cooperates with al Qaeda’s branches in Syria, US Secretary of State John Kerry said today that such a meeting is possible. From Reuters:
“The United States has not met to date with the Islamic Front but it’s possible it could take place,” Kerry told a news conference in Manila where he is visiting.
“There is an effort afoot among all of the supporting nations of the Syrian opposition to want to broaden the base of the moderate opposition and broaden the base of representation of the Syrian people in the Geneva two negotiation,” he added.
Meanwhile the Islamic Front was also busy denying it met with US officials. And a member of the “political bureau” said that the group would not fight al Qaeda. From Asharq Al Awsat:
Meanwhile, an official of the Islamic Front’s political bureau, Abdallah Al-Hamawi, denied the reports and said they were “lies, and their objectives were clear, and we will not allow them to cause sedition”.
He added on his Twitter account that the Islamic Front “will not fight the al Qaeda organization because it [Islamic Front] was founded to form a link for jihadists”, and that it would not fight a proxy war or cause division between the jihadists.
Take all of that in, and then go read Thomas Joscelyn’s report on Abu Khalid al Suri (or Mohamed Bahaiah), a senior leader of Ahrar al Sham, a large brigade in the Islamic Front that routinely fights alongside al Qaeda’s branches in Syria. Bahaiah previously served as Osama bin Laden’s courier and now serves as Ayman al Zawahiri’s personal representative in Syria (he is mediating a dispute between the leaders of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham and the Al Nusrah Front).
Should the US consider the Islamic Front to be part of what Secretary Kerry calls the “moderate opposition”?
Are you a dedicated reader of FDD's Long War Journal? Has our research benefitted you or your team over the years? Support our independent reporting and analysis today by considering a one-time or monthly donation. Thanks for reading! You can make a tax-deductible donation here.