On Feb. 12, the newly formed Hay’at Tahrir al Sham (HTS) and other insurgent groups launched an offensive against Bashar al Assad’s regime in the southern city of Daraa. Two HTS suicide bombers were deployed at the beginning of the battle. HTS includes al Qaeda’s arm in Syria.
The US-led coalition targeted Rachid Kassim near Mosul, Iraq earlier this week. Kassim is an Islamic State operative responsible for “remote-controlling” attacks in France. He has been tied to several plots.
Abu Jaber has released his first speech as the general commander of the newly formed Ha’yat Tahrir al Sham (“Assembly for the Liberation of Syria”). He calls on other factions to join his group, promises to wage jihad on Bashar al Assad’s regime until the end and claims that losing the war would be catastrophic for Syria’s Sunnis.
Katibat Imam al Bukhari, which also operates in Syria alongside al Qaeda’s forces there, claims that four Afghan soldiers were killed in the attack.
It is the Islamic State’s first major operation in Puntland since it captured the town of Qandala last October.
The Pentagon announced that 11 al Qaeda operatives were killed in a pair of airstrikes near Idlib, Syria earlier this month. One of them, Abu Hani al Masri, is described as “a legacy al Qaeda terrorist with ties to the group’s senior leaders, including Ayman al Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden.”
The Taiban claimed the murder of six Red Cross workers and the abduction of two more in Jawzjan province is “the work of kidnappers.” But the group has attacked NGOs in the past.
The attack was executed by a Tajik fighter, who may have been a member of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan faction that merged with the Islamic State’s Khorasan province.