Al-Nusra Front/Jabhat al-Nusra
Jabhat al-Nusra (AN) is a militant Sunni Islamic terrorist group in Syria affiliated with Al-Qaeda. Similar to other groups mentioned, the goal is to implement Sharia law. The have been heavily involved in the Syrian Civil War and fighting against Assad’s government. AN is not popular with the citizens of Syria; however, they have been trying to win their favor by trying to avoid civilian casualties and reportedly supplying civilian aid in some areas 3.
They are organized in cells and led by Abu Mohammad al-Golani. Historically they have been at odds with ISIS despite ISIS’s attempt to declare AN part of their organization. Despite substantial conflict, AN and ISIS have collaborated over the past several years on numerous occasions. While AN has a stated emir and several highly positioned leaders, it is primarily made up of small, independent cells 3. It is also thought to associate with the Khorasan Group.
By 2012, AN had committed 40 suicide bombings and 600 attacks 3. They often use suicide bombers and are reported to have recruited child soldiers. AN was the first jihadist organization in Syria to use suicide bombings following the beginnings of the Syrian uprising. In 2011, AN attacked a Syrian intelligence headquarters in Damascus resulting in 44 deaths and 166 injuries 3. During a significant attack on the Assad regime in 2012, their efficient use of explosives and rockets led them to develop a reputation for being well-organized and prepared 3.
Current status of Jabhat al-Nusra
AN has fought alongside other jihadist groups such as ISIS. They remained active and using mortars and rockets attacked the city of Aleppo with ISIS on May 30, 2016. 1. The U.S. and Russia may eventually enter joint attacks of AN, but Russia appears eager to more directly attack AN 2. AN continues to be a threat to Syria civilians, as well as Syrian military personnel.
1. Interfax. (2016a, May 30). Jabhat al-Nusra militants shell populated localities in four Syrian provinces in past 24 hours - Russian Defense Ministry. Interfax: Russia & CIS Military Newswire. p. 1.
2. Interfax. (2016b, May 30). Russia may start active actions against al-Nusra in Syria - State Duma defense committee head. Interfax: Russia & CIS Military Newswire. p. 1.
3. Jabhat al-Nusra (Al-Nusra Front). (2013). Background Information Summaries, 1.