Nusra Front

Syrian rebels pledge to defeat Russian 'occupation'

Amid signs of an escalating Russian intervention in Syria, the opposition government-in-exile issued a statement entitled: "Our People's Will and Determination Will Defeat Any Foreign Occupation." Ahmed Ramadan, a member of the opposition General Assembly, invoked the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and said: "Any repeat of that mistake will have disastrous consequences on Russia." He added: "It is unacceptable that a permanent member of the UN Security Council send weapons and mercenaries for a regime responsible for the death of over 300,000 Syrian citizens, including 81,000 children and a woman, the displacement of 14 million people and the reduction of most Syrian cities and towns to rubble. Syrians have the will and determination to defeat any possible foreign occupation of their homeland, just like what they have done throughout history, and have been doing for nearly five years against the Iranian occupation and its tool represented in the Assad regime." (Syrian Coalition, Sept. 9)

Turkey slips toward internal war

As Turkey continues to bomb Kurdish anti-ISIS fighters in Iraq, violence is quickly spreading within Turkey itself. Two assailants—apparently both women—opened fire on the US consulate building in Istanbul on Aug. 10, fleeing the scene when police shot back. One of the assailants was captured in a building where she took shelter. She has been identified as a member or the armed-left Revolutionary People's Liberation Army-Front (DHKP-C). (Hurriyet Daily News) Elsewhere in Istanbul, an officer was killed in clashes after a car-bomb attack on a police station. In southeastern Sirnak province, four police officers were killed by a roadside bomb and a soldier died as gunmen fired on a military helicopter. (BBC News)

Pentagon claims kill of 'Khorasan Group' leader

The Pentagon announced July 22 that Muhsin al-Fadhli, a longtime al-Qaeda operative from Kuwait, was killed on two weeks earlier "in a kinetic strike" while "traveling in a vehicle near Sarmada, Syria." Al-Fadhli was a leader of al-Qaeda's so-called "Khorasan Group," a cadre of veteran militants now based in Syria. The Khorasan Group has been "plotting external attacks against the United States and its allies," Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said in a statement. The statement acknowledged that al-Fadhli survived air-strikes on Khorasan Group targets in September 2014. According to US officials, the Khorasan Group is made up of operatives from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Chechnya and North Africa who were ordered to Syria by al-Qaeda "emir" Ayman al-Zawahiri. Among al-Fadhli's missions was reportedly the failed effort to reconcile the Qaeda affiliate Nusra Front with ISIS. (Long War Journal, July 22)

Israel denies backing Nusra after Golan lynching

In a grisly incident on the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights last week, Druze villagers attacked an Israeli military ambulance, killing one of two Syrian casualties it was carrying. The attack was apparently retaliation for the Nusra Front massacre of Druze villagers in Syria a week earlier. Al-Monitor reports that the IDF has launched an aggressive "information campaign" to convince the Golan Druze that Israel is not backing the Nusra Front. Media reports (Reuters, Forward) have been vague on who the casualties in the ambulance actually were, but blogger Michael Karadjis identified the murdered patient as Munthir Khalil from the "Revolutionary Command Council in Quneitra and Golan," a wing of the Free Syrian Army's Southern Front. Karadjis emphasizes that the Southern Front months ago issued a declaration cutting off all cooperation with the Nusra Front, and offered refuge to fleeing villagers after the massacre. He calls the incident "deadly consequences" of the "fairy tale" that Israel is backing Nusra.

Syria: Nusra Front renegades in Druze massacre

Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate Nusra Front acknowledged on June 13 that its followers were responsible for a massacre at the Druze village of Qalb Loze, Idlib governorate, saying they had violated orders and would face justice. Twenty Druze villagers were reportedly killed June 10 when Nusra militants opened fire in an incident that began with the militants' attempt to seize a local home. (Reuters, June 13) Following the massacre, five of the largest militias in Idlib, all members of the Jaysh a-Fatah coalition, issued a statement condemning the killings. The militias—identified as Ahrar al-Sham, the Sham Front, Ajnad al-Sham, Thuwar al-Sham and Fastaqm Kama Umrat—declared that "Islam forbids spilling people's blood whatever their sect is." The massacre was also condemned by the more secular Syrian National Coalition. (Mkaradjis blog, June 13) In the wake of the massacre, Israel is said to be considering creation of a "safe zone" on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights to protect Druze residents of the area. (Times of Israel, June 14)

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