Jihadists say al Qaeda veteran killed during assault on Shiite towns in Syria

Yesterday, we noted that the Jaysh al Fateh coalition in Syria has launched new operations targeting Bashar al Assad’s forces in two Shiite towns in the Idlib province, Fua’a and Kafriyeh. The assault is tied to the Assad regime’s attacks on Zabadani in southern Syria. A significant number of Sunni jihadists are reportedly under siege in Zabadani, and the Jaysh al Fateh coalition wants to pressure Iran and Syria into backing off by increasing the pressure on Fua’a and Kafriyeh.

Screen Shot 2015-09-19 at 9.52.08 AM

Jihadists on social media report that a veteran al Qaeda operative has been killed during the fighting in Idlib. He is identified as Abu Hassan al Tunisi (the Tunisian). The authors of pro-al Qaeda Twitter feeds claim he was a companion of Osama bin Laden, spent time with al Qaeda in the Sudan (meaning in the early to mid-1990s), and survived the Battle of Tora Bora in late 2001. He allegedly went on to serve as a military trainer in Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria. A screen shot of some of the tweets purportedly offering details on Abu Hassan al Tunisi’s career can be seen on the right.

Of course, the usual caveats apply. These details cannot be independently verified at this time. If and when a eulogy is issued, then we will probably learn more. In any event, this is hardly the first instance of jihadists on social media claiming that an al Qaeda veteran has been killed while fighting in Syria. And in at least some of those cases, the Twitter reports turned out to be basically accurate.

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Jeff Edelman says:

    Ahhh. Sad news here at the Terrorists Times.

  • irebukeu says:

    The zabadani siege is ongoing and there has been pressure by al qaeda including atrocities on poor helpless civilians all in an attempt to release from the snare those trapped within it.
    The Syrian Arab army, knowing the prize within its grasp and knowing that its very survival is on the line cannot cease until it has reduced the pocket. It is a miniature Cherkassy pocket or something. Both foes are in a death grip A gripping story.
    The crimes al qaeda is willing to commit is not yet known.
    The Syrians are tied down by the American backed Mujahideen-sunni extremist jihadists and cannot respond to all of al qaeda’s attacks on civilians. American backed forces in effect become the pinning and diversionary attacks so needed for the main and secondary attacks which so many times as in this case by al qaeda, is directed against helpless civilians.
    It is said one of the battle cries of nusrah and of other groups is “Christians to Lebanon Alawites to the grave”
    Id like to see the Syrian arab army untied so that it can restore a situation where Alawite, Christian and Kurdish minorities can see some protections so as to be a balance against sunni extremism and not fodder, sex slaves and victims for it.

    If not for the western support of the destabilization of Syria ISIS would not have been able to become the IS. Iraqis armies would not have folded (I will retract that last sentence if pressed) and we would not be in quite this situation.

  • Arjuna says:

    I agree with you 100%. The American addiction to “regime change” born out of a perverse faith in our own righteous revolutionary (guerilla/terrorist tactics) roots has made us blind to the chaos which nearly all regime changes entail. We stirred the pot in Syria with money, propaganda and weapons (just ask former US AMB R. Ford) and now we have a stew of misery and death to show for our efforts.
    Assad is fighting for his nation and his life; of course he will kill EVERYONE in rebel held areas. That is how you put down insurrections.
    It is so sad that America won’t eat some crow and realize that the Russians are on the right side here (Assad deserves to stay). He is the lesser of the evils compared to the certifiable crazies of Al Nusra and the “Islamic” State. And who are we to talk about WMD use when we fried up nearly half a million Japanese civilians with no warning at all? We are the world’s biggest hypocrites, and bullies to boot. The world sees this and watches with glee as we fail time after time to achieve our foreign policy objectives.

  • mike merlo says:

    “If not for the western support of the destabilization of Syria ISIS would not have been able to become the IS. Iraqis armies would not have folded (I will retract that last sentence if pressed) and we would not be in quite this situation.” I often wonder about this myself. I’m not sure how much help the Al Malaki Inquiry aids in trying to ‘decipher’ all this but it certainly contributes to a deeper understanding along with simultaneously seeding it with that much more confusion.

    The Genesis of this whole affair is pretty confounding. On the one hand there are a predictable set of markers & or reference points one can look to & analyze allowing for a logical appreciation of how this latest phase to become what it is. On the other hand there is a surrealness to it that defies conventional wisdom’s. The conflict that has enveloped both Syria & Iraq had different origins & in my estimations had they been separated by geography of consequence what we’re presently would still be playing out but in a much different manner. Maybe something more akin with whats playing out in Libya, Nigeria & Mali. Its like something from mythology where 2 evil serpents at odds with each other & everything else around them find a common cause of sorts, a type of melding if you will, that invokes them each to wound each other but not mortally while that which opposes the both of them is the subject & target of death in the worst way.

    Observing Nations forming against & with these 2 Forces has become pretty spectacular itself. On the one hand at any given time any one of these principals could bring their ‘full weight’ to bear decidedly determining & altering the course of events. Yet for reasons obvious & otherwise this has yet to materialize excepting maybe Yemen & possibly Mali, due to French intervention, & Egypt’s Sinai, due to Egypt’s Sisi knowing this threat for what it is & at least reacting in some kind of responsible fashion. Yet all the principals continue to piecemeal their way(s) through this whole affray. The USA & Europe continue to employ a dual approach of tepidness & as of late whisperingly deploying Special Operational personnel with a level of ruthlessness equal to elements of that which opposes them. Without belaboring the point Russia, Turkey, Iran & the Sunni Arab Nations are also all worthy of an expanded impression.

    Nice finish though. Definitely a something that will continue to shadow this affray throughout its duration & be a big part of the aftermath conversation


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