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Al Nusrah Front suicide bomber targets Assad regime in Aleppo
The Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda's official branch in Syria, has released its first series of propaganda photos from the newly-launched offensive in Aleppo. The group posted more than 20 images online today, including several that feature the explosion caused by a suicide bomber known as Abu Osama al Jazrawi in the neighborhood of Jamiyat al Zahra. The neighborhood is home to some of the regime's most important military assets in the area.
The photos were disseminated via one of Al Nusrah's official Twitter accounts, as well as on a feed devoted to the Ansar al Sharia coalition. The images, which can be seen below, are watermarked with the logos for both Al Nusrah and Ansar al Sharia. In addition, Al Nusrah has released a short video showing scenes from the fighting.
On July 2, the Al Nusrah Front and several other groups announced that they had established Ansar al Sharia to battle Bashar al Assad's forces in the city.
Another coalition of insurgents named Fatah Halab (or "Conquest of Aleppo") is also participating in the fight against Assad. The Al Nusrah Front does not belong to Fatah Halab, but Ahrar al Sham, which is linked to al Qaeda and allied with Al Nusrah, is a member. Ahrar al Sham is, in fact, part of both rebel groupings. More than two dozen other anti-Assad organizations belong to Fatah Halab as well.
It is not clear how much progress the two alliances have made in the early rounds of the fighting.
Al Nusrah claims that Abu Osama's "martyrdom operation" paved the way for its fighters to storm Assad's positions in Jamiyat al Zahra. In one tweet, Al Nusrah says the "mujahideen" are now in control of "several buildings."
Other propaganda photos released by Al Nusrah show the jihadists entering the area. The jihadists are using a tank, homemade rockets, and other assorted weapons to target Assad's forces inside the neighborhood.
US-led coalition strikes al Qaeda's "Khorasan Group" near Aleppo
The US and its coalition partners have reportedly detected the presence of seasoned al Qaeda operatives in or around Aleppo.
On July 5, Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve announced that "coalition military forces conducted one airstrike against a network of veteran al Qaeda operatives" near Aleppo.
The task force said, according to a statement posted on DVIDS, that the al Qaeda members are "sometimes called the 'Khorasan Group,' who are known to plot external attacks against the United States." The airstrike reportedly "struck a tactical unit and destroyed a vehicle."
There has been much confusion concerning the "Khorasan Group," since the name was first used by the US government in September of last year. But as The Long War Journal has reported, the "Khorasan Group" is simply a cadre of seasoned al Qaeda veterans who were dispatched to Syria to plot potential attacks against the West and assist al Qaeda's insurgency efforts against Assad. These veterans are embedded within Al Nusrah and other al Qaeda front groups in Syria.
Al Nusrah has posted photos of the aftermath from US airstrikes on the "Khorasan Group" in the past.
[Source: By Thomas Joscelyn, The Long War Journal, NJ, 06Jul15]
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