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.
The Islamic State has seized towns and villages in Aleppo province, provoking a counterattack from several rebel organizations. The “caliphate’s” move may have been timed to disrupt its jihadist rivals’ advances in northern Syria.
Jihadists, including al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, have claimed victory in the battle for the town of Ariha. The town was one of the last regime-controlled areas in the province of Idlib.