"We are ready to fight by their side
... our blood is their blood."
(Daily Mail) - Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria is facing mounting pressure from its members to form an ultra-alliance with the rival Islamic State to confront a common enemy after U.S.-led air strikes hit both groups this week.
Al Nusra, long one of the most effective forces fighting Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, was weakened this year by battles with Islamic State, an Al Qaeda splinter group that routinely employs ruthless methods such as beheadings and mass executions.
U.S.-led air and missile strikes, which have hit Al Nusra as well as Islamic State bases in Syria, have angered many Al Nusra members who say the West and its allies have joined forces in a ‘crusader’ campaign against Islam.
The two share the same ideology and rigid Islamic beliefs, but fell out during a power struggle that pitted Islamic State head Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi against Al Qaeda chief Ayman Zawahri and Al Nusra Front leader Abu Mohammad al-Golani.
|Members of the Al Nusra Front (above) want their leaders to |
reconcile with its rival Islamic State to confront a common enemy,
namely President Assad and Western forces launching bombing
raids in Syria and Iraq.
But merging would require pledging loyalty to Islamic State, which has declared a caliphate in territory it controls in Iraq and Syria, which would effectively put an end to the Al Nusra Front, fighters in the group say.
Even before the air strikes, Nusra was facing difficulties and was losing fighters to the Islamic State, which is seen as more organised and determined to impose Islamic rule.
'This goes without saying, this is a crusader war that includes all infidel nations against the Islamic State,' said Nusra commander Abu Mussab al-Makdessi in a voice message posted in jihadi forums online in response to a question from an Islamist about the group's reaction to the strikes.
'Regardless of what happened between us, they remain our brothers, and the ideological bond between us is stronger than anything. We are ready to fight by their side ... our blood is their blood.'
One former Nusra fighter inside Syria said the air strikes had strengthened Islamic State's position even further.
'Nusra is in a very difficult situation. I think now it should just announce the end of itself. Zawahri has to be brave,' he told Reuters.
'It is no longer like the old days. He needs to understand this. This is a new era with a caliph,' he said.
Read more: Daily Mail.
Read more: Daily Mail.
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