Qatar recently secured the release of Qatari hostages, including members of the royal family. But its diplomatic victory was marred by reports that a multi-million dollar ransom was paid to a US-designated terrorist group and al Qaeda’s joint venture in Syria.
Jihadists, Islamists and rebel groups affiliated with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) launched a new offensive against Bashar al Assad’s regime in northern Hama province earlier this week. Hay’at Tahrir al Sham, al Qaeda’s joint venture in Syria, is playing a prominent role in the fighting, dispatching several suicide bombers and its “special forces.” Upwards of 10 or more FSA-branded groups are participating as well.
Hay’at Tahrir al Sham (HTS), Ahrar al Sham, and the Free Syrian Army-affiliated Faylaq al Rahman launched a surprise offensive against Bashar al Assad’s regime in Damascus yesterday. HTS, an al Qaeda front group, has been stepping up its attacks in the Syrian capital in recent weeks.
Hay’at Tahrir al Sham (HTS), a newly formed group that includes al Qaeda’s Syrian arm, launched a complex assault on the Assad regime’s security services in the city of Homs earlier today. A high-ranking military intelligence official was killed in the suicide raid.
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.
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.
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.”
Five groups, including al Qaeda’s rebranded branch, have announced the creation of a new group in Syria. The move comes after weeks of reported disagreements and clashes between the insurgents in northern Syria.