Obama Orders Attacks on al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front in Syria

Move a Dramatic Shift After Recent Months of Condemning Strikes on Them

According to officials familiar with the situation, President Obama has ordered the Pentagon to begin conducting military strikes against the leadership of the al–Qaeda-linked Nusra Front, a major rebel faction operating within Syria.

The Nusra Front holds materially the entire Idlib Province, and also has significant territory within neighboring Aleppo Province, including in Aleppo itself. The Islamist group is closely aligned with several US-armed rebel factions, which has long kept the US from launching attacks on them.

The US has at time expressed concern about Nusra’s growing influence, but its reticence to target them cannot be understated. Indeed, the Obama Administration has spent much of the past two months railing against the Russian government for conducting airstrikes against Nusra targets.

Though Nusra has never been a party to any of the US-Russia-brokered ceasefires in Syria, the group’s close ties with several US-armed groups has complicated matters greatly, as often they share bases of operations, meaning attacks on Nusra Front bases also target US-backed groups.

When the US first began bombing Syria, they did attack some Nusra targets, but invented the fictional “Khorasan” faction of al-Qaeda, which they claimed was distinct, to justify the attacks. The attacks were harshly criticized by rebels, and stopped almost immediately, with the US shifting its focus to ISIS.

Attacking Nusra has been seen as problematic for parts of the US government, notably the State Department and CIA, who believe that, as they are one of the few rebel groups successful at fighting the Assad government, they ought to leave them alone for the sake of eventually imposing regime change, even if it means that regime change is heavily al-Qaeda influenced.

Last 5 posts by Jason Ditz

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.

  • TellTheTruth-2

    Once again the criminal in charge orders illegal attacks on a sovereign country. Obama’s legacy = the “doorman” for the Bush/Clinton Crime Family.

  • lemur

    So what prompted this change of heart? Is it linked to the election results??

    • Ghostship

      Probably not, I suspect that it’s more likely to be the result of a super-secret deal between Obama and Putin brokered by Kerry and Lavrov so that nobody in the CIA or Pentagon could throw a spanner in the works as they did with the last secret deal. It’s now pretty obvious to all except certain neo-con holdouts in the CIA and Pentagon that even the so-called “moderate” rebels are Al Qaeda associates and so supporters of terrorism. Whether the USAF carries out any raids is another matter but with Trump rather than Clinton following Obama I suspect they will fall into line.

      • Bianca

        This smells like nekcon game. We cannot possily work with the racist, mysonogist Putin — sorry confused the adjective packet — but now, we are taking over on our terms. Just expanded the war but it is not clear if coordinated. It is posslble to be a change but the neocons in charge would still try to sneak in their objectives. They deserve a very special brand of tin foil hats.

        • Adriaan de Leeuw

          Dont worry the Neocons chief idiot Bonkers Bolton wants to be Secretary of State, thought Hillary was bad try this fool! Remember it was his actions and comments that gave the North Koreans the Bomb!

      • Adriaan de Leeuw

        no UNTIL Trump is the ACTUAL President Obama is commander in chief, he does not decide ANY policy, the reality is that this is more to stop the truth getting out of the funding deals of Al Nusra Front AKA Al Qaeda in Iraq and the split to form ISIS. dead men tell no tails!

  • Bianca

    Just go ahead — expand as many wars and start a few more. Time is running out.

  • dahoit

    The Trump effect.
    Obomba fears Trump telling America we are the terrorists in Syria,and this is preemption.
    Boycott the traitor media.

  • Adriaan de Leeuw

    cant have them spilling the beans as to WHO actually funded them can we!

  • outer_rl

    It’s in line with what Obama has been saying publicly about wanting to cooperate with Trump to have a smooth handover.

    Trump wants to work with Russia. Russia is bombing al-Nusra. So on Trump’s behalf, Obama has changed US policy to also bomb al-Nusra. This way, when Trump actually takes over, no major change in policy will be required, and the handover will be smooth.

    Expect bafflement from the media when the US military starts bombing the al-Qaeda rebels in Aleppo.

    • Stanley Laham

      The absolute opposite. They are undermining Trump. I am willing to bet that they will do all they can to poison relations with Russia before Trump takes over.

      • outer_rl

        Then why order attacks on the al-Nusra front?

  • Tom Mauel

    Makes no sense.

  • Stanley Laham

    This is coming dangerously close to Russian forces. Al Nusra is the facilitator for the American agenda. Are they trying to poison the atmosphere before January so that Trump will inherit a fait accompli?