Syrian al-Qaeda Leader Urges Escalated Attacks on Alawites

Vows Daily Attacks Against Alawite Towns in Latakia Province

In a new audio message released today, al-Qaeda’s Syrian faction leader, Abu Mohamad al-Golani is calling for his forces to escalate attacks against Syria’s Alawite minority, the religious group to which President Bashar al-Assad belongs.

“There is no choice but to escalate the battle and to target Alawite towns and villages in Latakia,” Golani said, calling for “daily” attacks against them, saying the attacks will defeat both the Assad government and their Russian allies, who he called “Christian crusaders.”

Linking the attacks to Russian involvement in the war suggests the new audio message is of very recent manufacture, though of course al-Qaeda has been attacking Latakia, trying to establish a foothold in the area, for months now, with limited success.

Al-Qaeda, backed by other Islamist factions, seized materially all of the Idlib Province over the summer, and has since been trying to expand westward toward the Latakia coast, though significant military resistance has largely kept them out of the area.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.