In the UNSC’s new report on the Islamic State, al Qaeda, and affiliated groups, the UN states that the Uzbek jihadist group, the Islamic Jihad Union, operates in Syria. This was not previously known.
Al Qaeda has released a eulogy for Abu al Khayr al Masri, who was killed in a US airstrike in Idlib, Syria in late February. The eulogy emphasizes his close relationship with Osama bin Laden and his role as al Qaeda’s “representative” in meetings with the Taliban. Once in Syria, Masri was “honored” to oversee “combat operations” in the insurgents’ “management and planning rooms.”
The US killed al Qaeda veteran Abu al Khayr al Masri in a drone strike in Idlib, Syria in late February. Masri was identified as al Qaeda’s “general deputy” in July 2016. He worked to unite Syrian rebel groups under a common banner.
Five groups, including al Qaeda’s rebranded branch, have announced the creation of a new group in Syria. The move comes after weeks of reported disagreements and clashes between the insurgents in northern Syria.
A B-52 bomber and a number of remotely piloted aircraft pounded an al Qaeda camp in Syria. The US has already launched five attacks against al Qaeda’s network in Syria since the beginning of 2017.
The Pentagon is still assessing the results of airstrikes on Jan. 1 and Jan. 3 in northern Syria, but it is believed that 20 al Qaeda “militants” were killed in the bombings. The airstrikes are likely among the most significant carried out against al Qaeda in Syria since Sept. 2014. President Obama reportedly authorized a more robust air campaign against al Qaeda in Syria late last year, after the administration had previously defined down the threat.
Sham al Islam, a group founded by former Moroccan detainees at Guantanamo Bay, has merged with a local Syrian faction in order to “unify the ranks” and to “protect the jihad” in Syria.
Jund al Aqsa, a US and UN designated terrorist organization, was subsumed by al Qaeda’s rebranded Syrian branch in early October. The group had deep ties to al Qaeda’s fundraising network in the Gulf prior to the merger.