Jaish al Muhajireen wal Ansar, which is mainly comprised of foreign fighters, has officially merged with the Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria. Al Nusrah gains several hundred jihadists out of the deal, which was likely intended to bolster al Qaeda’s hand in the Aleppo province.
The Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, has released a statement claiming to have captured US-trained rebels belonging to a group called “Division 30.” The Pentagon denied reports earlier this week that US-backed fighters had been captured by al Qaeda’s jihadists.
Supporters of the Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, think that the hand of Allah can be seen in footage of a recent suicide bombing. Jihadists have marketed supposedly divine miracles for decades. Abdullah Azzam, Osama bin Laden’s mentor, was an early innovator in this genre of propaganda.
The Al Nusrah Front claims to control “several buildings” in a key neighborhood in Aleppo after a “martyrdom operation” cleared the path for its fighters. Separately, the US-led coalition struck a group of seasoned al Qaeda operatives near Aleppo.
Ansar al Din, an al Qaeda-linked group that is part of the Ansar al Sharia coalition, has posted images from the early fighting in the new offensive against Bashar al Assad’s forces in Aleppo.
Jihadist groups have announced the creation of Ansar al Sharia, a new alliance for the battle of Aleppo. Ansar al Sharia is the latest of several coalitions formed by the Al Nusrah Front and Ahrar al Sham this year.
Several al Qaeda ideologues have issued a fatwa saying it is “compulsory” to fight the Islamic State in Aleppo. The edict was issued after the Islamic State seized towns and villages from other rebel groups in the province.
The Islamic State has seized towns and villages in Aleppo province, provoking a counterattack from several rebel organizations. The “caliphate’s” move may have been timed to disrupt its jihadist rivals’ advances in northern Syria.
Fighting began when regime forces launched an offensive to cut off rebel supply routes and break the siege of two Shiite towns.
A video released by the Al Nusrah Front features three fighters shortly before they head off to fight the Islamic State’s jihadists, who have advanced on rebel positions north of Aleppo.