U.S. Central Command says an airstrike targeted al Qaeda in Syria (AQ-S) “leadership at a facility north of Idlib, Syria” earlier today. Jihadis on social media say the facility belonged to Ansar al-Tawhid, which is one of several al Qaeda-affiliated groups 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.
Jund al Aqsa has sworn allegiance to Jabhat Fath al Sham, al Qaeda’s rebranded branch in Syria. Jund al Aqsa itself is an al Qaeda front group. The move comes after weeks of infighting between Jund al Aqsa and other groups opposed to Bashar al Assad’s regime.
The State Department has designated Jund al Aqsa in Syria as a terrorist organization. The Long War Journal previously exposed Jund al Aqsa as an al Qaeda front group. Al Qaeda veterans have been embedded within the organization and Jund al Aqsa’s “general command” remains loyal to al Qaeda’s leaders.
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.
The Jaysh al Fath coalition, which overran the Idilb province in northwestern Syria last year, has launched a new offensive south of the city of Aleppo. The jihadists have released dramatic drone footage from the fighting, which centered on the town of Khan Tuman. Several of Jaysh al Fath’s member organizations have produced propaganda from the battle.
Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook confirmed today that the US targeted Abu Firas al Suri, a veteran al Qaeda leader, in an airstrike in Syria. Within hours of the bombing yesterday, jihadists on social media claimed that Abu Firas had perished. Separately, Cook confirmed that Hassan Ali Dhoore, a dual hatted al Qaeda and Shabaab leader, was killed in an airstrike in Somalia on Mar. 31.
According to a statement published online, twelve senior figures in Jund al Aqsa have joined Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria. Jund al Aqsa has suffered from internal disputes for months and these disagreements likely led to the leaders’ announcement. Despite operating somewhat independently from Al Nusrah, the group has long been a front for senior al Qaeda operatives.
Jund al Aqsa, an al Qaeda front group, claims to have seized all or parts of Morek, a key town that sits on a major highway connecting Aleppo and Hama. In October, Jund al Aqsa broke with the Jaysh al Fateh coalition, which was co-founded by Al Nusrah Front, but the organization remains loyal to al Qaeda.
The Al Nusrah Front, Ahrar al Sham, Jund al Aqsa, and the Turkistan Islamic Party have launched significant operations targeting two Shiite villages in the Idlib province of Syria. Their attacks are a response to the siege of Zabadani, a southern Syrian city, by Bashar al Assad’s regime and its allies.
Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, claims to have overrun the Abu Duhour airbase in Idlib. Al Nusrah also says that more than 100 of Bashar al Assad’s fighters were killed and an additional 60 or so captured during the fighting.
The Jaysh al Fateh alliance claims to have captured several villages in the Al Ghab plain in recent days.
Said Arif, an al Qaeda veteran, has reportedly been killed in an airstrike in Syria. Jihadists on social media have identified Arif as a senior figure in Jund al Aqsa, an al Qaeda front group.
With victory over Assad’s forces at the military camp, the al Qaeda-led coalition continues to overrun regime positions in Idlib province.
In a tweet last month, Jund al Aqsa, an al Qaeda-linked jihadist group in Syria, identified Adel Radi Saker al Wahabi al Harbi as its fallen military commander. Al Harbi was wanted by the US government, had previously served as the deputy leader of al Qaeda’s Iran network, and was a member of al Qaeda’s so-called “Khorasan Group.”
The Jaysh al Fateh coalition has captured the city of Idlib, or much of it. Propaganda photos posted online show jihadist groups, including the Al Nusrah Front, controlling government buildings and key facilities.
The two suicide bombers, one Kuwaiti and one Saudi, were deployed in conjunction with a larger assault on the regime-held Idlib city. Several rebel groups, including the Al Nusrah Front, Jund al Aqsa, Ahrar al Sham and others have joined forces in a coalition called Jaish al Fateh.
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 photos purport to show the Al Nusrah Front and Jund al Aqsa, a group composed primarily of foreign jihadists, in the town formerly used by the western-backed Syrian Revolutionaries Front (SRF) as a base of operations. Also featured is a house that allegedly belonged to the SRF leader, Jamaal Maarouf.
The Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, has captured several towns and villages in the countryside of Idlib. The territory was controlled by the Syrian Revolutionaries Front (SRF), which has been allied with Al Nusrah despite being part of the Free Syrian Army.