Abu Muhammad al Julani announced that Al Nusrah Front has been rebranded as Jabhat Fath Al Sham. Many have read into Julani’s statement as a formal disassociation with al Qaeda. But Julani didn’t actually say that, as his language was intentionally ambiguous. While sitting next to a longtime al Qaeda veteran from Egypt, Julani did not explicitly say that his group has broken from al Qaeda.
Al Qaeda’s propaganda arm, As Sahab, has released a new audio message from Ayman al Zawahiri. The al Qaeda emir discusses his organization’s goal of establishing an Islamic emirate in Syria, calls for “unity” among the mujahideen, and heaps praise on Al Nusrah Front.
The Islamic State has released a set of photos documenting the “spoils” it captured from Bashar al Assad’s regime at the Shaer gas field in Homs.
The Islamic State and Bashar al Assad’s forces are once again battling for control of the Shaer gas field in Syria’s Homs province. The gas facilities have changed hands multiple times since July 2014, when the jihadists first launched an offensive in the area.
The Syrian Army claims to have retaken the city of Palmyra from the Islamic State. Bashar al Assad’s forces, backed by their Iranian and Russian allies, are battling Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s jihadists on several fronts. The Islamic State frequently claims “martyrdom operations” against Syrian regime fighters in Aleppo province, Deir Ezzor, and elsewhere.
Al Nusrah Front and Ahrar al Sham have issued eulogies for Zahran Alloush, the leader of Jaysh al Islam, who was killed in an airstrike outside of Damascus on Dec. 25. Alloush portrayed himself and his organization as “moderate” in comparison to the Islamic State, but that was not an apt description for him.
Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, has posted several photos purportedly showing Russia’s airstrikes. Al Nusrah also posted two images of leaflets dropped by the Assad regime.
Photos and videos posted on social media show that Jaysh al Fateh, a coalition of several jihadist groups, has captured a number of Syrian regime checkpoints surrounding the city of Idlib.