Al-Nusra Doubles as Syrians Join from Iraq

Al-Qaeda Backed Group Sees Surge in Membership

by Jason Ditz, March 27, 2013

Syria’s Jabhat al-Nusra, long a small but exceedingly effective front-line of the Syrian rebel movement, has seen massive increasing in the number of jihadists fighting under their banner.

Once estimated to be between 300-400 hardcore fighters, the al-Qaeda endorsed movement is now believed to have nearly 1,000 fighters, with large numbers of them coming from neighboring Iraq.

This is a direct consequence of Jabhat al-Nusra’s increasing control over the Syria-Iraq border, and their ties, virtually from inception, with al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), to the point that the US believes they are essentially the same group using two names.

Iraq has struggled to deal with this problem along their border, closing official sites but unable to do much to close the long, mostly desert, border with Syria, an influx that has bolstered AQI’s access to international weapons as well as al-Nusra’s access to seasoned fighters.

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