Hay’at Tahrir al Sham (HTS), al Qaeda’s new front group in Syria, has claimed responsibility for two suicide bombings that targeted Shiites in Damascus yesterday. Al Qaeda generally avoids targeting Shiite civilians, but a number of children and women were reportedly killed. HTS attempts to justify the bombings by arguing that the jihadists targeted “Iranian militias” and Bashar al Assad’s forces.
The Islamic State has been battling Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, inside the Yarmouk refugee camp since April 7. The so-called caliphate has gained ground from Al Nusrah since then.
Three jihadist groups have formed Jund al Malahim (“Soldiers of the Epics”), a joint operations room opposed to the Assad regime and Russian forces in the Ghouta region of Damascus.
Training camps run by the Al Nusrah Front, the Khorasan Group, and a Chechen-led group, Khalifat Jamaat, were identified in Syria. The Long War Journal has identified 42 jihadist training camps in Iraq and Syria.