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Jihadists celebrate in key Idlib city after defeating Syrian regime

After defeating the Assad regime in Jisr al Shughur, several jihadist groups have released videos showing their fighters and civilians walking and parading through the streets of the city. In many of these scenes, al Qaeda's black flag can be seen flying in the center of town, as well as on many vehicles shown in the videos.

The Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda's official branch in Syria, and its allies captured Jisr al Shughur after three days of fighting. The city was one of the regime's last remaining strongholds in Idlib province and its fall comes just weeks after jihadists took the city of Idlib. Al Nusrah declared victory in Jisr al Shughur yesterday and released many pictures from the city center.

The groups that took part in this fighting are part of the "Battle of Victory" coalition. In addition to Nusrah, the coalition is made up of Ahrar al Sham, Ansar Sham, Jaish al Islam, the Jabhat Ansar al Din (which includes the Chechen Jaish al Muhajireen wal Ansar, the Moroccan Harakat Sham al Islam, and the native Syrian group Harakat Fajr al Sham al Islamiyya), Jamaat Ansar al Islam (the Syrian remnant faction of Ansar al Islam), the small Uzbek group Katibat al Tawhid wal Jihad, the larger Uzbek group Imam Bukhari Jamaat, the Turkistan Islamic Party, Junud al Sham, and many others.

Several of these groups are within al Qaeda's network, including Ahrar al Sham, Jabhat Ansar al Din, the two Uzbek groups, the Turkistan Islamic Party and Junud al Sham. Besides fighting in Jisr al Shughur, the "Battle of Victory" coalition is also fighting in Latakia, in the Al Ghab plains of Hama, and in other areas of Idlib.

Besides taking Jisr al Shughur, the coalition has made gains in the surrounding areas. Harakat Sham al Islam, as part of Jabhat Ansar al Din, has released a video showg its forces taking Al Ghani village in Latakia near Jisr al Shughur. The 1st Coastal Division of the Free Syrian Army, which is also in the coalition, has posted many videos of its spoils after overrunning regime positions in the Al Ghab plain in Hama. Ahrar al Sham has also released footage of its gains in the Al Ghab plain.

[Source: By Caleb Weiss, Threat Matrix, The Long War Journal, NJ, 27Apr15]

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