Rebranded Nusra Front Uniting Syria’s Rebels
Alex Crawford, Sky News, Aug 18 2016
Syrian rebel groups have united around the militants formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra after they split from AQ. By severing ties with AQ, JFS created conditions which allowed the dozens of disparate rebel groups in Syria (excluding Da’esh) to work together. It has had a startling and immediate effect on the battlefield, leading to the breaking of the siege of Aleppo. Sheikh Mostafa Mahamed, who spoke to Sky News from Aleppo, has been given the job of communicating and dealing with foreign media. The fact that JFS is beginning to talk to the wider media, seems an indication they have accepted that acknowledging the Western media may well be necessary in this war. Despite cutting its ties with AQ, the Pindosi government in particular seems to be resistant to engaging with them, and has already said the group’s renaming is a simple rebranding with the same extremist ideology and agenda. In fact its leadership and top tier has remained exactly the same since its renaming last month. The collaboration of the different groups may prove to be a significant turning point in Syria’s protracted war. But so far the breaking of the Aleppo siege has triggered even more ferocious attacks from Assad’s regime, with hundreds of rocket and airstrikes being reported as the government troops along with their allies try to wrestle back control of the city.