Yesterday, a low-quality video depicting an IED attack on a regime checkpoint in southern Syria was uploaded to the internet. A relatively unknown group, the Popular Resistance, claimed credit within the video itself. While this small outfit has claimed a series of sporadic attacks since its inception last fall, it nonetheless represents a budding insurgency […]
The State Department announced yesterday that two Canadian citizens have been added to the US government’s list designated terrorists. Tarek Sakr has been “linked” to al Qaeda’s “affiliate” in Syria and Farah Mohamed Shirdon is a member of the Islamic State. According to press reports, jihadists associated with Sakr are suspected of playing a role in the kidnappings of two Americans in Syria.
The policy debate concerning Syria must reflect on-the-ground realities. The war is a complex, multi-sided affair with no easy solutions.
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.
As each side converges on the Islamic State-held city of al-Bab, a military confrontation between Turkish-led rebels and pro-regime forces appear inescapable. In the meantime, tensions between Ankara and Moscow are rising yet again, risking pulling the United States and NATO further into the Syrian theater.
Al Qaeda’s rebranded guerrilla army in Syria is fighting alongside other jihadists, Islamists and Free Syrian Army-branded rebels in an offensive intended to break the Assad regime’s siege of Aleppo. Most of the participating groups belong to two coalitions: Jaysh al Fath (“Army of Conquest”) and Fatah Halab (“Aleppo Conquest”). These same two alliances tried and failed to break the siege earlier this year.
Jund al Aqsa, an al Qaeda front group, is playing a major role in the rebel offensive in Hama province. The group released a video earlier today showing one of its drones dropping a small, unguided bomb on Syrian regime forces. Jund al Aqsa has endorsed Al Nusrah Front’s relaunch as Jabhat Fath al Sham (“Conquest of the Levant Front”), saying that al Qaeda’s senior leadership must have determined that it was in the best interests of the people and the jihad in Syria.
More than 20 jihadist, Islamist and other rebel organizations took part in the offensive to break the siege of Aleppo. It was likely one of the largest combined efforts in the history of the Syrian war.
Jaysh al Fateh, a jihadist-led coalition that includes al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, and various groups affiliated with the Free Syrian Army have launched a new offensive on government-held positions in the Latakia province. The assault has been named the “Battle of Yarmouk.”
Several rebel groups in Syria’s Aleppo province have united under the leadership of Hashem al Sheikh, who was the emir of Ahrar al Sham from September 2014 to September 2015. The alliance doesn’t include Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, but its constituents will almost certainly continue to cooperate with al Qaeda’s men.
The Free Syrian Army’s Southern Front, Al Nusrah Front and Ahrar al Sham all claimed to have captured the so-called UN Hill from the Assad regime earlier today. The Southern Front previously rejected collaboration with Al Nusrah Front.
The Islamic State has issued a statement claiming to have captured several key towns north of the city of Aleppo. The group’s campaign in Aleppo province had stalled until Russia began targeting some of its opposition, including Free Syrian Army units.
Kurdish forces and fighters from the Free Syrian Army have seized a military base and a town just 30 miles north of the city of Raqqa, which is the seat of the Islamic State’s so-called “caliphate.” The losses are problematic for the Islamic State, which claims that its territorial rule is “remaining and expanding.”
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.
Fighters from the Free Syrian Army, the Al Nusrah Front, Ahrar al Sham, Jaysh al Islam and other groups overran the Nasib border crossing between Syria and Jordan. The anti-Assad forces have made gains in southern Syrian in recent weeks.
The Al Nusrah Front and Ahrar al Sham fought side-by-side with Western-backed rebels in a battle to take a key Assad regime base in southern Syria.
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The Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, backed by Jund al Aqsa, Ahrar al Sham, and several other groups, has launched an offensive on two major regime bases in the northwestern province of Idlib.
The Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, has used a BGM-71 TOW anti-tank missile in the recent assault on Wadi al Daif in the Idlib countryside.
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