Important Syrian Islamist group pledges allegiance to former al-Qaeda branch

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Syrian Islamist fighters of Jund al-Aqsa. File photo

ARA News

IDLIB – An important group of Syrian Islamists pledged allegiance to Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, which was formerly a branch of al-Qaeda. Jabhat Fateh al-Sham was previously known as Jabhat al-Nusra.

Jund al-Aqsa’s leadership said in a statement on Sunday that their fighters had sworn allegiance to Fateh al-Sham. Both organizations have been listed by the United States as terrorist entities.

Jund al-Aqsa has fought against the Syrian Army in both Idlib and Aleppo Governorates. Recently, fighting broke out between Jund al-Aqsa and other Islamist groups in Syria’s northwestern Idlib Governorate.

In pledging its allegiance, Jund al-Aqsa said it was trying to end rifts with other jihadi factions, mainly the Islamic Movement of Ahrar al-Sham. The infighting in Idlib has killed dozens of militants on both sides.

“Settling those differences was important to avoid weakening the rebels fighting against the Assad regime,” Jund al-Aqsa said. The extremists added that they would work side by side with other rebel factions in northern Syria as part of the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham.

It was not immediately clear whether Jabhat Fateh al-Sham could protect its new members from Anhrar al-Sham. Ahmed Karali, a spokesman for the latter, said: “The decision to uproot [Jund al-Aqsa] was taken in consultation with other rebel groups and we will not halt a task we’ve started.”

Reporting by: Riyad al-Hassan | Source: ARA News 

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