Three jihadist factions in Syria announced today that they have joined the “Guardians of the Religion” organization. Al Qaeda-affiliated social media channels have promoted the new group, which was formed as a result of jihadist infighting and leadership disputes in Syria.
Hay’at Tahrir al Sham has released two videos and a short statement claiming that its men downed a Russian warplane. The Russian defense ministry confirmed that the jet was lost after it was struck by a “a portable anti-aircraft missile system.”
Al Qaeda’s general leadership and regional branches have released statements denouncing the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
A jihadist known as Abu Abdullah has responded to claims made by a senior Hay’at Tahrir al Sham figure. Abu Abdullah identifies himself as al Qaeda’s “external communication officer,” a previously undisclosed position, and says that al Qaeda’s senior leaders are able to communicate with their representatives around the globe on an “almost daily” basis.
The jihad in Syria has unleashed another leadership crisis for al Qaeda.
The Islamic State claims to have captured several villages from its jihadist rivals in Hay’at Tahrir al Sham (HTS) in Hama province. The Islamic State’s assault on HTS came just days after HTS launched its own offensive against Assad regime positions in Hama.
In a new message, Hamza bin Laden praises the jihadists fighting to establish an “Islamic government” in Syria. But he warns that their enemies seek to “divide” their “ranks.”
The Shiite jihadists were freed as part of a ceasefire deal with Sunni jihadists in the Lebanon-Syria border region.