Jihadists from the Turkistan Islamic Party fighting in the Al Ghab plain
The Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP), an Uighur jihadist group that is affiliated with al Qaeda and operates in Central and South Asia, has published photos showing its fighters engaging in combat with Syrian government forces in Hama and Latakia provinces. The photos and fighting come as the Assad regime, backed by Shiite militias and Russian airstrikes, has launched an offensive in the Al Ghab plain of northern Hama.
The photos show TIP fighters targeting regime forces with small arms, rocket-propelled grenades (RGPs), heavy machine guns, and anti-air weapons. Two images show the use of a anti-tank missile, while another pair show the “spoils” gained in the fighting, including light machine guns and ammunition. In other photos, the regime forces are seen retreating. The jihadist group says in the captions that it is “standing up strongly to the Nusayri army [derogatory term aimed at the Assad regime] and the Russians.”
In the last two photos, the TIP features fighters on the frontline in the Jabal al Akrad area of Latakia province. Jabal al Akrad has seen heavy fighting in recent days as jihadist forces, including the Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, and other rebel groups have fought the Assad regime for the town of Doureen. While the regime has claimed to have taken the town, Al Nusrah released footage yesterday showing fighting still occurring there. Ahrar al Sham, a powerful al Qaeda-ally, and the Free Syrian Army’s First Coastal Division have also released footage from in and near the town. In addition, Al Nusrah published a video showing Russian airstrikes in the area.
The TIP has fought alongside al Qaeda and its other allies in almost all of the major operations that have taken place in Idlib province this year. The jihadist group assisted in the capture of the city of Jisr al Shughur, where it launched at least two suicide bombings in support of the operation. It also helped overrun several important towns and villages in the strategic Al Ghab plain with Al Nusrah, Jund al Aqsa, and two Uzbek groups, Katibat al Tawhid wal Jihad, an al Qaeda affiliate, and the Imam Bukhari Jamaat, which has pledged allegiance to Mullah Akhtar Mansour of the Taliban. The group also helped al Nusrah overrun the Abu Duhour airbase last month.
[For more information on the TIP’s role in these offensives, see LWJ report, Turkistan Islamic Party had significant role in recent Idlib offensive, and Threat Matrix reports, Turkistan Islamic Party releases photos from captured Syrian regime airbase, Turkistan Islamic Party in Syria involved in new Idlib offensive, Turkistan Islamic Party in Syria conducted suicide bombings at Jisr al Shughur, and Turkistan Islamic Party in Syria takes part in battle for the Al Ghab plain.]
Photos released by the Turkistan Islamic Party from the Al Ghab plain in Hama:
Photos from Jabal al Akrad, Latakia: