Al-Qaeda-Led Islamists Gear Up for Return to Syria War

Nusra Front Used Ceasefire Clashes to Attract More Allies

by Jason Ditz, May 19, 2016

With the ceasefire increasingly crumbling across Syria, the return to all-out-war is being embraced by a lot of rebel groups, but none more-so than al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front, which was never a party to the truce to begin with, and used the ceasefire period to re-establish itself as a major rebel force with numerous Islamist allies.

While Nusra never lost its stranglehold on the Idlib Province they also used the relative calm among other factions as a chance to push back into the area around Aleppo, setting the stage for weeks of bloody, high-profile fighting against the military.

With a lot of Islamist rebels nominally part of the ceasefire but not really happy with it, Nusra’s aggression was embraced by many, and those groups are increasingly rallying to the banner of Nusra’s umbrella group, the Jaish al-Fatah.

Al-Qaeda’s parent organization is also increasingly behind the Syrian affiliate, with reports that a number of senior al-Qaeda figures have been deployed to Syria to help Nusra prepare for the establishment of an independent “emirate” in northern Syria, an effort to challenge ISIS by establishing their own state in the region.

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