While the group was already mostly fighting on the same side as al-Qaeda in the first place, the Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar today announced it is formally pledging allegiance to al-Qaeda’s local affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, in Syria.
The Muhajireen consists of around 1,500 fighters, and historically has been a primary route for Chechens and other fighters from the former Soviet Union to enter the Syrian Civil War. The group’s main power bases are in Aleppo and Latakia, which are two areas in which al-Qaeda is attempting to expand.
The Muhajireen had previously been reported to be fighting alongside ISIS in Aleppo, and this could shift the balance of power in the area around the Turkish border, where the two sides are in direct competition for important towns.
The group was founded by Abu Omar al-Shishani, a Chechen who had fought against Russia in the Chechnya wars and the Russo-Georgian War. The group’s leadership remains largely foreign, and al-Qaeda estimated in their own statement that the Muhajireen was 30% foreign fighters at this point.
Last 5 posts by Jason Ditz
- Trump Officials Trying to Finalize Legal Language to Expand Gitmo's Use - August 20th, 2017
- White House Continues to Talk Up 'Preventative War' Against North Korea - August 20th, 2017
- Trump Elevates US Cyber Command to a Formal Military Command - August 20th, 2017
- Abbas: After 20 Meetings I Still Don't Understand Trump's Peace Plan - August 20th, 2017
- Lebanon's Army Advances Deep Into ISIS-Held Border Territory - August 20th, 2017