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Entries in Jabhat al-Nusra (40)


Syria Feature: Jabhat al-Nusra, Al Qaeda, and the Islamic State of Iraq

Activists with Jabhat al-Nusra FlagWriting for Al Jazeera English, Basma Atassi, claims that the head of Al Qa'eda, Ayman al-Zawahari, has intervened in a dispute between the Syrian insurgency Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq with a letter to the leaders of the two groups.

The clash arose in April when the head of the ISI, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, tried to claim oversight of Jabhat al-Nusra in a message. A senior JAN commander, Abu Muhammad al-Joulani, responded by asserting the insurgents' autonomy in Syria.

Media coverage incorrectly claimed that the ISI and JAN had "merged", as well as emphasising al-Joulani's reference to al-Zawahari as a "pledge of allegiance".

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Syria Analysis: How The Media is Expanding the Simplistic Narrative of "Al Qa'eda"

Video Showing Execution In Raqqa Last Week

Scott Lucas and Joanna Paraszczuk write:

For weeks, we have noted how the media and "experts" have used one paragraph from the statement of a leader of the Islamist faction Jabhat al-Nusra --- ripping it out of context of the rest of the statement, let alone developments on the ground or an understanding of the Syria conflict --- reducing the group with the simplistic tag of "Al Qa'eda-linked" or "Al Qa'eda affiliate".

For weeks, we have tried to knock down that too-easy and misleading narrative, offering a full translation of Jabhat al-Nusra's statement and evaluating the complex political and social situation in Syria, especially in the north, and discussing how the media has created a misleading myth of "Al Qaeda" that precludes any deeper understanding of the nuanced reality on the ground in Syria and elsewhere.

However, the simplistic story that Al Qa'eda is "taking over Jabhat al-Nusra" persists.

Indeed, for some journalists, that easy narrative is no longer enough.

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Syria Today: A Short-Lived Move for Political Talks?

2026 GMT: Rebels Launching Attack in Idlib.

There are reports from every corner of Idlib province that the rebels are in the initial stages of a major offensive against Idlib city and several other Assad strongholds that remain in the province. The offensive is being called "The Retribution for Baniyas," referencing the sectarian massacre that may have claimed hundreds of lives last week. The rebels are reportedly bringing significant amounts of firepower, from Grad rockets to tanks, artillery to mortars, into this fight. We've already seen many videos that reportedly show a significant amount of firepower on the move tonight, though we're still working to verify the locations.

This video reportedly shows a rebel tank attacking an Assad military installation in Idlib:

2008 GMT: US Ambassador inside Syria?

Analysts have been waiting for the arrival of more non-lethal assistance to Syrian rebels from the United States. NPR's Deborah Amos reports that some of that delivery may have arrived, accompanied by the US Ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford:

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Syria Today: Israel Airstrikes "Hit Military Research Centre"

See also Syria Snap Analysis: What Did Israel Bomb, and Why?
Middle East Today: Iraq --- Results from Provincial Elections Inconclusive
Saturday's Syria Today: Obama Maintains Cautious Line on US Intervention

1900 GMT: Erdogan Denounces "Butcher" Assad

Turkish Prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has delivered his strongest denunciation of President Assad, "If God permits, we will see this butcher, this murderer receive his judgement in this world...and we will praise (God) for it."

Erdogan, speaking to lawmakers and party activists in a town near Ankara, addressed Assad, "You will pay a very, very heavy price for showing your courage to the babies in the cradle, the courage you cannot show others."

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Syria Audio Analysis: The "No Secular Fighters" Myth --- Scott Lucas with Monocle 24

The media's sensationalised mangling of the Syrian conflict went from bad to worse last weekend with a New York Times article that asserted --- on the basis of little evidence and a distorted quote --- that there are "no secular fighters" left in Syria.

Listen from the 18-minute mark on the Midori House homepage or in a separate pop-out window.

This morning I dealt with questions from Monocle 24's Midori House about the article to deal with wider points: 1. The insurgency is a collection of many factions, some of which have "secular" outlooks and members. Asking "are there any secular rebels left?" --- from the New York Times' "reader-baiting" approach --- is just as ludicrous as asking "are there any Islamists" in the insurgency.

2. This article and others have been fed by the escalating myths that the Islamist faction Jabhat al-Nusra is "Al-Qa'eda linked" and is dominating the insurgency. To repeat: JAN is only one of many factions in the opposition and it is not tied to Al Qa'eda.

3. Nor does the myth of "radical Islamists" do us any good in appreciating the countries beyond Syria amid the "Arab Spring". The post-uprising Governments in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya do not fit that simplistic label.


Syria Today: The Debate Over Chemical Weapons (Continued)

Dead animals in Khan Assal in Aleppo Province after an alleged chemical weapons attack last month (Photo: George Ourfalian/Reuters)

See also Syria Feature: The Lesson of the Destruction of the Ummayad Mosque
Middle East Today: Killing Off an "Independent" Egyptian News Site
Saturday's Syria Today: A Chemical Weapons "Game-Changer"?

1515 GMT: Insurgent Leader on Chemical Weapons, Jabhat al-Nusra, and Prospect of Victory

In an interview, General Salem Idriss, the head of the insurgent Joiot Military Command, has claimed that regime forces used "the kind of chemical weapons" that are "not so very well known" in the cities of Aleppo, Raqqa, and Homs --- thus indicating that the insurgents have not been able to identify the nature of the chemicals allegedly used.

In the town of Khan al-Assal, allegedly attacked last month, Idriss said that the Syrian military had employed "some kinds of gases" and "phosphorus bombs" against civilians.

Idriss said the importance of the Islamist faction Jabhat al-Nusra --- which has been elevated by much of the media because of the exaggerated claim that it is linked to Al Qa'eada --- has been exaggerated: "The fighters in Jabhat al-Nusra are not more than 5,000 in all the country. Compare 5,000 to that, they [have] very few fighters in Syria."

The commander added, "We don't coordinate with them, we don't have any plans to work with them in the future. They are a special group, and this group is not working under our command."

Idriss claimed, "I]f we have enough weapons and ammunition we can put an end to the fight in Syria, we can fall the regime of Bashar al-Assad. In not more than two months. We can do that."

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Iran Live: Ex-President Rafsanjani's Camp Makes Its Election Move

Iran Feature: The Week in Review --- Threats and Arrests Before the Presidential Election
Thursday's Iran Live: Ahmadinejad "Presidential Election Will Be Political Epic"

1407 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. Mohammad Hassan Asfari of Parliament's National Security Commission has said that a proposed festival in Azadi Stadium in Tehran is a gathering of Ahmadinejad which is an abuse of public funds and is illegal.

1253 GMT: Your Tehran Friday Prayer Update. In today’s sermon, Ayatollah Movahedi Kermani warned Presidential candidates that loyalty to the Supreme Leader is a vital prerequisite for the position, stating that the Presidency is not a position of personal power but a “trusteeship of the divine”.

He also offered his sympathies for those affected by Wednesday’s earthquake in Bushehr Province that killed at least 37 people and injured hundreds more.

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Syria Special: The Media Creates the "Al Qa'eda Myth"

One of the pictures accompanying the scare stories of Al Qa'eda taking control of part of the Syrian insurgency (Photo: AP)

This is the story of a story.

Or, rather, this is the story of the creation of a myth --- the myth that Al Qa'eda has taken over parts of the Syrian insurgency.

This is the story of how that myth --- based on failure to consider sources, let alone evaluate them; built by exaggeration and distortion --- points to the media's failure to responsibly cover important developments. More importantly, it indicates how that failure can have political consequences which are counter-productive and dangerous, contributing to poor decisions by policymakers.

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Syria Live: Islamist Insurgents "Merging" with Al Qa'eda in Iraq?

2029 GMT: Syrian Jet Bombs Lebanon. Once again, a Syrian jet has dropped bombs in northeastern Lebanon, according to the AFP:

"A Syrian jet dropped five shells on the outskirts of Sarjal Ajram. No one was hurt," the official said.

Sarjal Ajram lies northeast of Arsal, which is home to a majority Sunni population, and whose residents support the uprising in neighbouring Syria against President Bashar al-Assad.

2019 GMT: Rebel Attack on Hama Airport. Earlier we reported that rebels were attacking Hama airport with homemade rocket launchers (see update 1733). According to Now Lebanon, which cites activists, the regime has evacuated its helicopters from the airport in response:

The activist Syrian Media Center said that regime forces moved helicopters from the under-fire airport to a base in Dair Shamil, a small Alawite-populated village west of Hama.

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Syria Live: Deadly Airstrike in Aleppo

Image from a video of the aftermath of Saturday's regime airstrike on the Sheikh Maqsoud area of Aleppo

See also Egypt (and Beyond) Live: Protests Turn Into Clashes at High Court
Saturday's Syria Live: A Funding Crisis for the Refugees

2025 GMT: Aleppo. Journalist Jenan Moussa posts a series of telling observations about the Islamist insurgency Jabhat al-Nusra:

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