Tag Archives: Al-Nusra Front

ISIS+ Al-Nusra Front? Islamists reportedly join forces, new threat against West issued

Islamist Syrian rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra members gesture while posing on a tank on Al-Khazan frontline of Khan Sheikhoun, northern Idlib province.

Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front has issued a new threatening audio message featuring its leader warning the West “will pay the heaviest price” for its actions. The Syrian group is reportedly now joining up with the estranged Islamic State militants.

The leader of Syria’s most prominent terrorist group, Abu Mohamad al-Golani, in denouncing the US-led air strike campaign, has urged Westerners everywhere to do the same “by standing against the decisions of your rulers,” otherwise bloodshed would be brought to their soil.

“Muslims will not watch while their sons are bombed. Your leaders will not be the only ones who would pay the price of the war. You will pay the heaviest price,” Reuters cited him as saying. He threatened viewers that the fight would be brought “to the hearts of your homes.”

The US-led coalition has been involved in airstrikes against what until lately it thought was the most dangerous group in the Middle East – the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

However, recent intelligence has pointed to the danger of avoiding other groups whose modus operandi involves carrying out attacks on American and European targets. The IS’s so far has not.

READ MORE: US admits there is a much scarier terrorist group than ISIS

The US has opened two airstrike fronts in its war against the IS: Iraq, since August 8, and Syria since September 23.

The promise was to “degrade and destroy” the terrorist group, while Al-Nusra Front and Al-Qaeda were reduced in importance.

Indeed, for the past year, the IS had fallen out of favor with the likes of Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Al-Qaeda leader who tried to keep the militants in check. The reason was the group’s unwillingness to operate only in Iraq.

Now, however, the American airstrike campaign appears to have brought the two back together again: Al-Nusra Front has come under pressure from its own members to make good with the IS and embark on a mission to repel the “crusader” assault on Islam.

Although the two groups had fought a bitter battle on the sidelines of the broader Syrian conflict against President Bashar Assad’s forces, a senior Al-Nusra Front source has confirmed to the Guardian that a series of war planning meetings is underway.

While there’s still no word of a deal, any potential unity could be seen as a reason to worry. The Western airstrike campaign has been aiming to cripple the IS’s funding sources in order to slow its progress in Syria and Iraq. The addition of at least some elements of the Syria-based Al-Nusra Front to IS ranks would be a counter-balancing factor. In fact, 73 members had already reportedly defected to IS last Friday, according to an Al-Nusra Front source speaking to the Guardian.

The official Al-Nusra Front spokesman paraphrased in another message the earlier words of Al-Qaeda leader Zawahiri, that this is now a full-on “war.” And as Zawahiri said, “this war will not end in months nor years, this war could last for decades.”

With the Islamic State rampaging across northern Syria and Iraq during the past year, Al-Nusra Front was in relative obscurity. In Tuesday’s strikes by the US, however, 50 of its fighters were killed, including the leader of Al-Nusra-linked Khorasan – the group reportedly tasked with carrying out Al-Nusra’s attacks abroad.

Gholani made sure to mention that losses by all said groups make an imprint on the entire campaign, and will provoke retaliation, adding that in the end “even if we suffer some pain during it,” the war will be won.

Most importantly, he urged all Middle Eastern groups who had suffered at the hands of the IS to not use the opportunity to strike back at them, and instead unite to fight the West.

“[IS injustice] should not push any of you to be driven behind the West and take part in the alliance which they want to use to end jihad,” he said.

He further appealed to Sunni Muslims in Lebanon to leave the army and rise up against Hezbollah – the Shiite militia – in order to also fight the Shiite-aligned Assad in Syria.

Some Islamist elements of Syria’s three-year-long opposition are also visibly angry that the airstrike campaign is going nothing to offset the gain of the Syrian government.

“We have been calling for these sorts of attacks for three years and when they finally come they don’t help us,” said the leader of the Qatar-sponsored Islamic Front.

Airstrikes, however, also kill civilians. One such strike killed 31 civilians, when a school near the Iraqi city of Tikrit was hit on September 1. This included 24 children and a further 41 wounded civilians.

In the meantime, US President Barack Obama has in a CBS interview blamed intelligence for “underestimating” the threat posed by Islamic State in Syria, adding also that the fall of Iraq’s army in the north was likewise unexpected and is allowing the terrorist group to “reconstitute themselves and take advantage of that chaos.”

 

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Syrian forces expel rebels from Christian town of Kessab on Turkish border

A general view shows the exterior of a church in the Armenian Christian town of Kasab

The Syrian military has recaptured the strategically important border town of Kessab. The predominantly Christian-Armenian town was overrun by jihadist rebels in March, with much blame placed on Turkey for reportedly allowing the crossover to happen.

Syrian armed forces have been carrying out systematic assaults on the Al-Nusra Front and associated rebel positions across several provinces, including northern Lattakia, where control was reestablished on Saturday. The army seized weapons and ammunition and took out dozens of terrorists in the operation, mostly non-Syrians, according to SANA news agency.

The jihadists withdrew from Kessab “leaving behind only a small number of men,” according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Tanks were deployed in the surrounding areas and government forces eventually closed in on militants’ positions.

The jihadist groups were reportedly pushed back toward the Jabal al-Akrad area.

On March 21, extremists affiliated with Al-Qaeda seized the town of Kessab after clashes with Syrian government troops and local self-defense squads. This was to become part of a long-winded diplomatic crisis involving Turkey, Syria, and Armenia, as the jihadists had reportedly crossed into Syria from Turkey.

The Armenian government called on the UN to protect Kessab, evoked the Armenian genocide of 1915, and accused Turkey of allowing jihadists to cross the border to attack Kessab, blaming it for the civilian deaths. Moscow also joined calls at the UNSC to evaluate the situation and offer solutions on how to protect the some 2,000 Christian Armenians that inhabit Kessab.

Ankara slammed any accusations of its complicity and condemned the allegations as “confrontational political propaganda,” although Turkey downed a Syrian military jet on March 23, just ahead of an escalation in tensions between Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Syrian government. Turkey claimed the jet was violating its airspace.

In response, Damascus accused Ankara of “blatant aggression,” saying the fighter jet had been over Syria. The Syrian pilot said a Turkish aircraft fired a missile at him while he was pursuing jihadist militants within Syrian territories, SANA news agency reported.

Although the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has been caught several times in the past in the act of supporting the rebels and largely taking up a stance against the Syrian government, it likewise disagreed with the statement released by Ankara in the aftermath of the downing of the Syrian jet.

Finally, on March 27, a leaked phone conversation between top Turkish officials discussing the options for manufacturing a pretext for a military invasion of Syria appeared on YouTube, leaving little doubt as to how little Turkey was willing to hold back when it came to engaging the Assad government.

Theories on the invasion of Kessab by terrorists center largely on Erdogan allowing the border crossover to take place. It is a strategically important area because of its geographical location near the only border crossing with Turkey in the shaky Lattakia province, which is the heartland of the Alawite sect, of which Assad is a member.

March violence brought with it the loss of the last functioning border crossing with Turkey, when jihadists won it over from the Syrian government.

Yabroud in Syrian Army’s Hand, Militants Flee

الجيش السوري يتقدم باتجاه القلمون بعد مقتل قائد بـ"الجيش الحر"

Syrian Army entered the Syrian town of Yabroud in Qalamoun early on Sunday as the foreign-backed Takfiri militants free the area.

Al-Manar correspondent reported that the Syrian army was totally controling Yabroud city, adding there was great collapse within the ranks of the armed groups fighting the government forces.Yabroud

Our correspondent said the Syrian army was combing the city, noting that huge numbers of militants fled Yabroud to Rankous and Flita following the army’s operation.

He said reported that the Syrian’s army’s eye is now on Rankous and Flita, in addition to few Qalamoun farms.

The recapture of Yabroud comes a day after the Syrian army advanced further in Damascus Countryside from the northern and eastern sides, killing dozens of Takfiri terrorists.

Among the Takfiris killed on Saturday was Abu Azzam al-Kuwaiti, deputy leader of the so-called al-Nusra Front in Qalamoun city, who was leading the latest swap deal between his terrorist group and the Syrian government, which ended in liberating Maloula nuns on March 09, 2014.

via Yabroud in Syrian Army’s Hand, Militants Flee.

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Russia warns Saudi Arabia against giving Syria rebels missiles

Moscow ‘deeply concerned’ by reports Saudi Arabia may supply rebels with missiles and anti-tank systems

Russia on Tuesday warned Saudi Arabia against supplying Syrian rebels with shoulder-launched missile launchers, saying such a move would endanger security across the Middle East and beyond.

The Russian foreign ministry said in a statement that it was “deeply concerned” by news reports that Saudi Arabia was planning to buy Pakistani-made shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles and anti-tank systems for armed Syrian rebels based in Jordan. It said that the aim was to alter the balance of power in a planned spring offensive by rebels on the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

“If this sensitive weapon falls into the hands of extremists and terrorists who have flooded Syria, there is a great probability that in the end it will be used far from the borders of this Middle Eastern country,” the foreign ministry said.

Long-existing tensions between Russia and Saudi Arabia have intensified further as a result of the Syria conflict.

Russia is widely seen as Assad´s last remaining major ally in a conflict that has left an estimated 140,000 people dead since it began as a peaceful uprising in March 2011.

Five days to decide

Also Tuesday, Abu Mohammed al-Golani, a head of al-Qaida‘a Syrian arm, gave his rival jihadi group an ultimatum — accept mediation to end infighting within five days, or face a war which will “eradicate them.”

Al-Golani issued the ultimatum to the leadership of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and other Islamic factions.

“We are waiting for your official answer within five days of issuing this statement,” al-Golani said in a recording posted on the Internet.

“By God, if you reject God’s judgment again, and do not stop your arrogant over-lording over the Muslim nation, then [we] will be forced to launch an assault against this aggressive, ignorant ideology and will expel it, even from Iraq.”

At the start of February, al-Qaida disavowed the ISIL, while its chief Ayman al-Zawahiri had already ordered the group in May 2013 to disband and return to Iraq, and announced that another jihadist group, the al-Nusra Front, was al-Qaida’s official branch in war-torn Syria.

Jihadists were initially welcomed by some rebels in Syria’s conflict, but allegations of brutal abuses against civilians as well as rival opposition fighters has sparked a backlash.

Russia warns Saudi Arabia against giving Syria rebels missiles | i24news – See beyond.

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Report: Up to 11,000 foreign fighters from 70 nations are in Syria | World Tribune

6454778LONDON — The foreign fighters presence in the Sunni revolt in Syria has reached as many as 11,000, a report said.

The International Center for the Study of Radicalization estimated that between 3,300 and 11,000 foreigners have joined the Sunni revolt against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad

In a report, the London-based center said the fighters came from than 70 countries, including European Union members.

“We estimate that — from late 2011 to 10 December 2013 — between 3,300 and 11,000 individuals have gone to Syria to fight against the Assad government,” the report said. “These figures include those who are currently present [in Syria] as well as those who have since returned home, been arrested or killed.”

The report, based on 1,500 sources, said Arabs and Europeans comprised up to 80 percent the foreign fighters in Syria. The center also cited Islamist recruits from Africa, Canada, the United States, the former Yugoslavia and the former Soviet Union.

“Individuals from Middle Eastern countries continue to represent the majority of foreign fighters — around 70 percent,” the report said. “We estimate that up to 6,774 non-Syrian Arabs and an additional 523 non-Arabs from the [wider] region have gone to Syria.”

The report said many of the foreign fighters joined Al Qaida’s
Islamic State of Iraq and Levant as well as the Nusra Front for the Defense of the Levant. Both militias were said to control much of northern Syria.

“Only about 20 percent of the sources stated group affiliations,” the report said. “Of those, the vast majority are with Jabhat Al Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and Al Sham — the two militant opposition groups that are closest to Al Qaida. To a much lesser extent, fighters were also
reported to be members of Jaysh Al Muhajirin wa-l-Ansar, Harakat Ahrar Al Sham Al Islamiyya, Katibat Suqur Al Izz, Liwa Al Umma, and Harakat Sham Al Islam, among others.”

The European element in the Sunni revolt was said to have intensified in 2013 amid the deepening intervention by Iran and its Shi’ite proxies from Iraq and Lebanon. The report estimated a three-fold increase in EU nationals from April 2013, with the largest contributions from Britain and France.

“This may have reinforced and strengthened the perception among some Sunnis that the conflict is fundamentally sectarian, and that Sunnis need to stand together in order to halt the [Shi’ite] enemy’s advance,” the report,
released on Dec. 17, said.

Report: Up to 11,000 foreign fighters from 70 nations are in Syria | World Tribune.

The End of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Syrian Scam

The Free Syrian Army had one purpose. To fool America. Now the con is over.

In the deserts of the Middle East, political mirages appear easily and disappear just as easily. There are countries and armies that exist only on paper. And there are invisible tribal nations that have no flag and never appear on a map, but that have their own militias and govern themselves.

The Middle East as it exists neatly laid out in the pages of the New York Times or the Washington Post has little relationship to the messy realities of a region with few clean borders, only messy collections of tribes, families, ethnic groups and quarreling variations of Islam clinging to a few miles of dusty land, a handful of olive groves, some oil wells and their children and machine guns.

Out in Syria, the mirage of the Free Syrian Army, its camps full of soldiers defecting from the military to form a secular liberation force, has dissipated, vanishing into the sand. And all it took to knock down the Potemkin villages of the FSA that never existed was an attack on the only part of the Free Syrian Army that did exist—its warehouses full of American and European military aid.

The Free Syrian Army never existed. What did exist was neither free, nor Syrian, nor an army. The FSA was sold as an army of Syrian soldiers who had banded together under defecting officers to fight against the Assad government. The real FSA mostly consisted of Islamic brigades, indistinguishable for the most part from the other Salafist brigades in the war.  Some of these brigades were affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood whose local allies, Turkey and Qatar, were the war’s biggest backers.

Perhaps even the war’s inventors.

And yet even this FSA, the one that was later being described as a collection of “moderate” Islamic militias, was just as much of an illusion. Like the attempt to draw lines around tribal encampments and call the whole thing a country, the Free Syrian Army was really a collection of militias with little in the way of an organizing structure except a willingness to identify casually with the FSA in the hopes of scoring some loot from those warehouses of American aid … and the promised American air support.

The units in the Free Syrian Army were not monogamous. They operated with the Al Nusra Front, one of the Al Qaeda groups in Syria, and any of the wannabe Caliphs and Emirs of the other Islamist militias. Their commanders and their men were out for themselves, switching team alliances as easily as reality show contestants, but with much bloodier results.

The FSA’s real purpose was to fool America by propping up a fake military for the real governments that were assembled by the Muslim Brotherhood’s activists in places like Doha and Istanbul. These interim “governments” won official recognition and received money and weapons that they could distribute to the Islamist militias in exchange for their support. Once Assad was defeated, their internationally recognized ”government” representing the patchwork of militia-controlled territories would be able to stage phony elections and control the billions in foreign aid which would be donated to rebuild Syria.

The FSA con existed for and depended on American support. Without American weapons and American military intervention, the Free Syrian Army no longer had a reason to exist.

And the air support and weapons weren’t coming.

Benghazi had made the United States nervous and the secret negotiations with Iran were overriding the Muslim Brotherhood’s agenda in Syria. When Russia pressured Obama and Kerry into the Syrian chemical weapons deal, any hope of American military intervention in Syria ended.

And so did the Free Syrian Army.

Some of the militias that had been pretending to be the FSA joined other Islamist alliances. And those Islamist alliances went after the only real asset that the FSA had; its trucks and warehouses of foreign aid. The FSA’s warehouses full of foreign aid fell to the Islamic Front with only five casualties. Its leader, General Salim Idriss, fled to his masters in Turkey and Qatar.

Shortly thereafter a correction was issued.

General Idriss had never fled Syria because he hadn’t been in Syria. Idriss, who commands nothing except the attention of gullible Westerners, sets foot in Syria when he needs to accompany a VIP like Senator McCain for some photo ops. Idriss’s Islamist “deputies,” who command actual militias, have power. Their job is to fight the actual war. Idriss’s job is to tell American senators that if the imaginary moderate legions of the Free Syrian Army don’t receive more American aid, then Al Qaeda will win.

Unfortunately quite a few of his men actually are Al Qaeda. The rest make very poor warehouse guards.

In the wake of the warehouse debacle, the media is echoing the same warnings that if we don’t throw our weight behind the FSA, then Al Qaeda will win. But Al Qaeda has already won. And lost.

Al Qaeda dominates the Sunni opposition. Its foreign fighters have the best weapons and gear. The media tells us this all the time … but never bothers explaining where the weapons and gear come from.

They come from the same countries that are warning us that we must support the Free Syrian Army.

Al Qaeda’s arms dealers are warning us to arm the Free Syrian Army or Al Qaeda will win. But if they really didn’t want Al Qaeda to win, they wouldn’t be arming it. Al Qaeda in Pakistan or Mali isn’t nearly as well equipped as it is in Syria. They were arming Al Qaeda while setting up the Free Syrian Army as the moderate opposition so that we would be dragged into the war and overthrow Assad for them.

They had every reason to expect the plan to work. It worked in Libya.

But now the plan is shot to hell. The United States isn’t joining the war. The Shiite axis has thrown enough resources into Syria that it’s likely to win. Qatar and Turkey are facing a backlash in Sunni countries like Egypt where their Arab Spring plots failed to hand over rule to the Muslim Brotherhood.

As long as the United States keeps sending some foreign aid, the FSA scam will be kept alive. But the scam will consist of warehouses with a handful of men paid with proceeds from the sale of that foreign aid. And those warehouses will fall the moment that ISIS or the Al Nusra Front or the Islamic Front or anyone with enough fighters and guns rolls up in their dusty Japanese pickup trucks and takes it all.

The scam is over. So is the Free Syrian Army.

The End of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Syrian Scam | FrontPage Magazine.