Al Nusrah Front uses American-made anti-tank missile in Idlib


Picture in which Al Nusrah purports to use a TOW antitank missile

The Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, has posted a picture and video of its fighters using an American-made BGM-71 TOW anti-tank missile on an Assad regime tank.

The photograph and video were distributed on Twitter by Al Nusrah’s official page for Idlib operations. The TOW was used during the recent fighting in Wadi al Daif which, until this morning, was a major regime base in the countryside of Idlib. The fighting at Wadi al Daif was part of a larger jihadist offensive on two regime bases near the Idlib city of Maa’rat al Nu’man. The other base, Al Hamadiya, is also reported to have fallen to members of Ahrar al Sham, an al Qaeda ally, as well as to members of Al Nusrah and Free Syrian Army elements. [For more information on the offensive, see LWJ report Al Nusrah Front, Ahrar al Sham advance in northwestern Syria.]

It is likely that Al Nusrah got its hands on TOW missiles when it and Jund al Aqsa — which also helped Al Nusrah at Wadi al Daif — stormed the headquarters of the Western-backed Syrian Revolutionaries Front (SRF) in early November. The capture of the SRF headquarters came after Nusrah forced its leader, Jamaal Maarouf, to flee. [For more on the fighting between Nusrah and the SRF, see LWJ report Al Nusrah Front forces Western-backed rebel group to flee base in Idlib.]

Before today, several Western-backed Free Syrian Army groups equipped with TOWs have assisted Al Nusrah and its allies on numerous occasions. On Oct. 7, the US-funded Hazm Movement assisted the Chechen-led Jaish al Muhajireen wal Ansar against the regime in Aleppo. On Oct. 5, several Free Syrian Army units utilized their TOW anti-tank missiles to help Al Nusrah and Ahrar in southern Syria. And in August, the Syrian Revolutionaries Front aided Al Nusrah and Ahrar in taking the Quneitra border crossing with the Israeli-held Golan Heights.

Below is a video uploaded to YouTube by the Al Nusrah Front that shows many stages of the fighting at Wadi al Daif. At 4:00, the TOW missile is fired.

Caleb Weiss is an editor of FDD's Long War Journal and a senior analyst at the Bridgeway Foundation, where he focuses on the spread of the Islamic State in Central Africa.

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  • J.U. says:

    Stingers to Taliban, TOW missiles to salafists and now to AlQaeda in Syria… Classical.
    Hazardous US gov. decisions to help salafists indirectly if not directly helped this Nosrah Front to constitute a good little army, with now a huge amount of Syrian millitary equipment captured, including modern’ ones.
    They have a safe haven as well in Idlib now where all jihadists coming from Turkey can meet, train and plan almost safely.

  • Paul says:

    Like to see people going to jail for arming these terrorists.
    Enough of the madness.

  • JFlood says:

    The only real question is… did they capture modern AA equipment…

  • UK says:

    “On Oct. 7, the US-funded Hazm Movement assisted the Chechen-led Jaish al Muhajireen wal Ansar against the regime in Aleppo.”
    er, Whiskey.Tango.Foxtrot. 🙁


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