Al-Nusra Front

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2013-02-11, violent clashes continued between Syrian army forces and militants in capital, Damascus, and western city of Homs, where a commander of al-Qaeda-linked group al-Nusra Front was reportedly killed by army forces. 


Al-Nusra Front
also as Jabhat al-Nusra
جبهة النصرة لأهل الشام‎
Jabhat al-Nusrah li-Ahl al-Sham, 
"The Support Front for the People of Syria"
is militant group operating in Syria.

The terrorist announced its creation on 23 January 2012 during the Syrian civil war.[4]

Those terrorists are described as "the most aggressive and successful arm of the rebel force".[3]

Al-Nusra Front was designated by United States as  terrorist organisation in December 2012.[5]

1 Ideology
2 History
2.1 Founding
3 Attacks
3.1 Damascus Bombing
3.2 al-Midan Bombing
3.3 10 May 2012 Bombings
3.4 Deir ez-Zor killings
3.5 TV station attack
3.6 Mohammed al-Saeed murder
3.7 Aleppo bombings
3.8 Base attacks
3.9 Saraqeb executions
3.10 November 2012 car and suicide bombing
3.11 Alleged Aleppo "no-fly-zone"
4 Relationship with other rebel groups
5 Relationship with National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces
6 References

Al-Nusra Front
Participant in Syrian civil war

Flag of Al-Nusra Front
Active 23 Jan 2012 – present[1]
Ideology Sunni Islamism
Salafist jihadism
Islamic fundamentalism
Leaders Abu Muhammad al-Julani[2]
Area of
operations Syria
Strength 5,000 – 10,000[3]
Allies Free Syrian Army
Ahrar al-Sham
Ghuraba al-Sham
Opponents Syrian Armed Forces
Democratic Union Party


Those terrorists are generally described as being made up of Sunni Islamists andJihadists.

Its goal is to overthrow Assad government and, allegedly, to create a Pan-Islamic state under sharia law.[6]

Those terrorists force all Syrians to take part in war against Syrian government.[7]

All potential recruits must undertake a 10-day religious-training course, followed by a 15-to-20-day military-training program.[1]

In interview with UAE newspaper, Abu Ahmed, man identifying himself as Al Nusra military commander for the Hasakah Governorate, described organisation's goals as deposing Bashar al-Assad,
and then establishing state under Quran and sharia.

Alcohol, tobacco and 'immoral' entertainment would be banned,
but rules would be introduced gradually and after giving people advice first.

Members of those terrorists have attacked religious beliefs of non-Sunnis in Syria, including Alawis.[8]

terrorists lie that they do not and would not attack other sects, and that any sectarian rhetoric comes from foreign jihadists within group who fought in places like Iraq.[6]

terrorists of have referred to United States and Israel as enemies of Islam [8] and warned against Western intervention in Syria.[6]

Those terrorists claim they are only fighting Assad government and would not attack Western states.[6]

Those terrorists claimed that Al-Nusra Front is affiliated with al-Qaeda in Iraq.[9]

According to Aaron Zelin, fellow at Washington Institute for Near East Policy, there is "circumstantial evidence" that group operates as part of Islamic State of Iraq.[10]


Al-Nusra Front released its first public statement on 24 January 2012 in which they called for armed struggle against the Syrian government.

Al-Nusra Front claimed responsibility for 2012 Aleppo bombings, the January 2012 al-Midan bombing, March 2012 Damascus bombings [4]  murder of journalist Mohammed al-Saeed [11] and possibly 10 May 2012 Damascus bombings (see below).

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari has said that
al-Qaeda in Iraq members have gone to Syria,
where militants previously received support and weapons, in order to join Al-Nusra Front.[12]

They are considered to be best trained and most experienced fighters among Syrian rebels.[13]

The group has refused calls for ceasefire in Syria.[14]

US intelligence agencies had originally suspected al-Qaeda in Iraq for the bombings in Aleppo and Damascus.[7]

Iraq's deputy interior minister said early February that weapons and Jihadists were entering Syria from its country.[15]

The Front claimed credit for suicide attacks in the Syrian capital of Damascus as well as in Aleppo.

The Front is one of two Islamist jihadist groups based in Homs battling the Assad government.

The Institute for the Study of War, speculating on the origins of Al-Nusra Front, linked it with Syrian government sponsorship of jihadi groups fighting Coalition troops during the Iraq War.

The group grew in late March and April 2012 after many leading jihadists from Lebanese Fatah al-Islam and Palestinian groups joined the leadership and were able to secure sponsorship of key jihadi ideologues including Sheikh Abu al-Mundhir al-Shinqiti, Sheikh Abu Muhammad al-Tahawi, and Sheikh Abu al-Zahra al-Zubaydi.[16]

On 17 June 2012, Walid Ahmad al-Ayesh, described by Syrian authorities as "right hand" of Al-Nusra Front, was killed when Syrian authorities discovered his hiding place.

He was reportedly responsible for the making of car bombs that were used to attack Damascus in the previous months.[17]

The Syrian authorities reported the killing of another prominent member of the group, Wael Mohammad al-Majdalawi, killed on 12 August 2012 in an operation conducted in Damascus.[18]

The group has allegedly taken part in military operations with the Free Syrian Army.[19]

Abu Haidar, Syrian FSA co-ordinator in Aleppo's Saif al-Dawla district said that Al-Nusra Front "have experienced fighters who are like the revolution's elite commando troops".[20]


Al Nusrah Front announced formation of "Free Ones of Levant Brigades" in YouTube video statement that was released on January 23.

In statement, group claimed an attack on security headquarters in Idlib.

"To all the free people of Syria, we announce the formation of the Free Ones of the Levant Brigades," the statement said, according to a translation obtained by The Long War Journal.

"We promise Allah, and then we promise you, that we will be a firm shield and a striking hand to repel the attacks of this criminal Al Assad army with all the might we can muster.

We promise to protect the lives of civilians and their possessions from security and the Shabiha [pro-government] militia.

We are a people who will either gain victory or die." [21]

All statements and videos by Nusra Front have been released by its media outlet, al-Manarah al-Bayda (White Minaret), via leading Jihadist webforum Shamoukh al-Islam.[1]

The name, al-Manarah al-Bayda, is believed to allude to a hadith or Islamic tradition of second coming of Jesus, who will descend to Earth east of Damascus and do battle with the Antichrist.[22]


During Syrian war, those terrorists launched many attacks, mostly against targets affiliated with or supportive of Syrian government.

During 2012 Nusra Front claimed responsibility for 43 suicide attacks in Syria.[23]

Damascus Bombing

See also: 2011 Damascus bombings

One of first bombings for which al-Nusra was suspected of and the first suicide attack of war came on 23 December 2011, when two seemingly coordinated bombings occurred in Syrian capital of Damascus. 44 people were killed and 166 were wounded.

According to US National Counterterrorism Center, it is likely that two female suicide bombers from Iraq carried out the attack.[24]

al-Midan Bombing

See also: January 2012 al-Midan bombing

The al-Midan bombings of January 2012 were allegedly carried out by a fighter named Abu al-Baraa al-Shami.

Footage of destruction caused by blast was released on jihadist forum.[7]

Video released by Al-Nusrah asserts that "martyrdom-seeking operation" was executed "in revenge for our mother Umm Abdullah - from city of Homs- against whom criminals of regime violated her dignity and threatened to slaughter her son," SITE reported.

Video shows "excerpt of allegiances, operations, and training of al-Nusra Front" as well as fighter "amongst masses in public demonstration, advising them to do their prayers and adhere to rituals of Islam."

10 May 2012 Bombings

In a video released to Internet on 11 May 2012, man purporting to represent Al-Nusra Front claimed responsibility for the 10 May 2012 Damascus bombings.[25]

However, on 15 May, someone claiming to be spokesman for group denied that the organization was responsible for the attack,
saying that it would only release information through jihadi forums.[26]

Deir ez-Zor killings

On 29 May 2012, a mass execution was discovered near the eastern city ofDeir ez-Zor. The unidentified corpses of 13 men had been discovered shot to death execution-style.[27]

This incident raised awareness that violence in Syria was heading towards inexorable vicious cycle of tit-for-tat attacks between the different parties involved.[28]

According to opposition,13 people who were shot at point blank range and later found in a field were employees at the electricity company in Deir Ezzor, who went on strike in protest of massacres committed by Syria.

They all had their hands tied behind their backs and were shot in the head according to UN report.

Head of UN observer mission in Syria was “deeply disturbed” by killings in Deir Ezzor, calling it “appalling and inexcusable act.”[29]

Several days later, dead were identified to be military and opposition then claimed they were army defectors killed by government forces.

However, on 5 June, Al-Nusra Front to Protect the Levant claimed responsibility for the killings,
stating that they had captured and interrogated soldiers in Deir al-Zor and "justly" punished them with death,
after they confessed to crimes.[30]

TV station attack

On 27 June, a group of Syrian rebels attacked a pro-government TV station in town of Drousha, just south of the capital Damascus.

Station's studios were destroyed with explosives. Seven people were killed in the attack on Al-Ikhbariya TV, including four guards and three journalists.[31]

Free Syrian Army rebels claimed that defectors from Syria’s elite Republican Guard were behind the attack.[32]

However, this was later found to be untrue after Al-Nusra confirmed it carried out attack and published photos of 11 station employees they kidnapped following the raid.[33]
Mohammed al-Saeed murder

The scene at Saadallah Al-Jabiri Square after the attacks on 3 October 2012

In mid-July, Mohammed al-Saeed, a well-known government TV news presenter, was kidnapped by group.

On 3 August, al-Nusra published a statement saying that al-Saeed was executed.[11][34]

Aleppo bombings

On 3 October, three suicide car bombsexploded at the eastern corner of the central Saadallah Al-Jabiri Squarekilling 48 people,[35] as it was announced by Ministry of interior.

More than 122 people were reported to be heavily injured.[36]

Al-Nusra claimed responsibility for the attack.[37] The bombs targeted the Officers' club and nearby buildings of the Touristic Hotel and the historic "Jouha Café".

hotel received major damage while café was entirely destroyed. A small building within Officers' club was ruined as well.[38][39]

Base attacks

Al-Nusra Front claimed responsibility for attacking:
Syrian air defense base near Aleppo on 12 October,
Hanano barracks in Aleppo city
and Suluq barracks in Raqqah.

In air defense base assault they reportedly destroyed buildings and sabotaged radar and rockets after overrunning the base.

They said al-Fajr Islamic Movement and a group of Chechen fighters were involved.

During the storming of the Hanano barracks 11 soldiers were killed and they held the complex for six hours before retreating.

They also claimed killing 32 soldiers during the raid on the Raqqah base.[40]

In October, they joined other rebels troops to attack the Wadi Deif base around Maraat al Numan, in prolonged fighting that turned into a siege of the base.[41]

They also led the biggest base attack on the Taftanaz military airport on November 2, important and strategic base for Syrian army, containing up to 48 helicopters.[13]

Saraqeb executions

The group seized three army checkpoints around Saraqeb at the end of October 2012, forcing the Syrian Army to withdraw from the area the next day.

In the battle, 28 Syrian soldiers were killed as well as five Nusra fighters.

Some of captured soldiers were summarily executed after being called "Assad dogs".

The video of these executions was widely condemned, with the United Nations referring to them as probable war crimes.[42][43]

November 2012 car and suicide bombing

Members of the al-Nusra Front committed two terrorist attacks in early November.

One occurred in a rural development center in Sahl al-Ghab inHama province, where a car bomb killed two people;
while the other occurred in the Mezzeh neighbourhood of Damascus, where a suicide bomber killed 11 people.[44]

The SOHR claimed a total of 50 soldiers were killed in the Sahl al-Ghab attack.[45]

Alleged Aleppo "no-fly-zone"

Al Jazeera reported on 23 December 2012 that the al-Nusra Front had declared "no-fly-zone" over Aleppo, using 23mm and 57mm anti-aircraft guns to down planes.

This would include commercial flights which al-Nusra believed transported military equipment and troops.

In a video sent to Al Jazeera, they warned civilians against boarding commercial flights.[46]

Relationship with other rebel groups

Al-Nusra Front has been a great help to Syrian rebels in the Battle of Aleppo. One rebel said that members of group "rush to the rescue of rebel lines that come under pressure and hold them [...]

They know what they are doing and are very disciplined.

They are like the special forces of Aleppo". He added:
"The only thing is that they are too radical".[14]

After the US designated al-Nusra Front as a terror group, Free Syrian Army (FSA) leader in Aleppo berated the move and a FSA spokesman in Aleppo said "We might not share the same beliefs as Jabhat al-Nusra, but we are fighting the same enemy".[47]

However, some rebels are worried by their extreme beliefs and tactics.[6][14]The FSA has consistently condemned al-Nusra Front's use of suicide bombs.[14]

It accuses al-Nusra Front and others of "hijacking a revolution that began as an uprising to demand a democratic system".[6]

The leader of a rebel group in Idlib Province said "We are not fighting Bashar al-Assad to go from living in autocratic to a religious prison".[6]

A "senior political official" of the FSA said "Their presence is reducing the popular support that we desperately need in areas where we operate [...] I appreciate their motives for coming to Syria.

We cannot deny Muslims their right to jihad, but we want them to leave".[14]

In some parts of Syria, "Jihadist and secular rebel groups watch each other's military bases warily, unclasping the safety catches on their guns as they pass".[6]

Members of FSA believe that,
after Assad government has been overthrown,
the next war will be between FSA and Islamists.[6]

Relationship with National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces

The leader of the National Coalition for Opposition Forces and the Syrian Revolution, Moaz al-Khatib, called on US to reconsider its decision to list the al-Nusra Front as a foreign terrorist organization; al-Khatib has stated that all rebel forces whose main goal is the “the fall of the regime” should be left alone.[48]

After the listing of al-Nusra as a terrorist organisation by the US in December 2012, a group of 29 opposition groups, including both fighting units and civilian organisations signed an online petition calling for demonstrations in its support.[49]

On 14 December 2012 thousands of Syrians protested against the US move, under the slogan of "There is no terrorism in Syria except that of Assad."