The Islamic State claimed a suicide bombing that targeted the Assad regime and Russian forces in southern Syria yesterday. The group claims that 50 people were killed or wounded, while a pro-regime source reported “scores” of casualties. The operation was conducted by a jihadist dispatched by a new Islamic State “province,” but the group has operated in the area for years under another brand.
Hay’at Tahrir al Sham (HTS) and its jihadist rivals in the “Guardians of Religion” organization have called on all Muslims to resist the Assad regime’s new offensive in southern Syria. However, severe infighting has limited the jihadists’ ability to launch sustained operations against the Assad regime and its allies.
The US Treasury Department and the UN have added two senior jihadists to their terror sanctions lists. Both of them were leaders in the group formerly known as Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria. Treasury’s announcement provides new details about al Qaeda’s operations in Syria, including the organization’s history and personnel.
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.