Al-Nusra Front Jihadists Vow Revenge Against US, Allies for Syria Air Strikes
Al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch, has for the first time threatened to retaliate against the United States, as well as other nations participating in air strikes against the Islamic State, condemning the attacks as “a war against Islam.”
As the United States and its coalition allies continued and widened air strikes against IS targets in war-ravaged Syria, al-Nusra spokesman Abu Firas al-Suri posted an online video saying the attackers had “committed a horrible act that is going to put them on the list of jihadist targets throughout the world.”
“This is not a war against al-Nusra, but a war against Islam,” al-Suri added.
In addition to the United States, five Arab nations—Saudi Arabia, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain—are taking part in the air campaign against Islamist militants in Syria. French warplanes have been bombing targets in Syria since the beginning of the campaign, with Britain joining the fray over the weekend. Australia, Belgium, Canada and Denmark have also offered to support the mission.
Al-Nusra, which is considered a terrorist group by the US and the United Nations, is one of the most powerful militant groups fighting the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria. It has also declared Islamic State an enemy, although it has been under internal pressure to reconcile with its rival and form a united front against the US-led coalition and may be moving toward an alliance with IS.
A US attack on an al-Nusra base in Aleppo on the first day of the Syrian bombing campaign killed dozens of the group’s fighters, including its leader, Abu Yousef al-Turki.
The al-Nusra warning came as Pentagon officials reported US warplanes bombed seven targets in Syria, including a border crossing into Turkey at Ain-al-Arab (Kobani), a Kurdish town besieged by IS fighters. The northern Syria town of Manbij, located between Aleppo and Ain-al-Arab, was bombed, as was the Kuniko gas plant, which fuels a large power plant in Homs, the country’s seventh-largest city.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based anti-Assad group, said US-led air strikes hit grain mills and silos in Manbij, possibly mistaking the agricultural facilities for an IS base, killing an unspecified number of civilians.
“These were the workers at the silos. They provide food for the people,” Observatory chief Rami Abdulrahman told Reuters.
Syrian government forces also attacked Aleppo on Sunday night, targeting areas east of the city with barrel bombs and other projectiles. Assad’s forces also attacked Hama in the west.