News24

Jihadists claim Syria attacks

2012-07-04 19:33

Beirut - An al-Qaeda-inspired group claimed responsibility for dozens of attacks across Syria, the latest evidence that extremists are exploiting the chaos to make inroads in another Middle Eastern country.

The Syrian regime has long blamed terrorists for the 16-month-old revolt, and the presence of al-Qaeda groups creates new difficulties for Arab and Western countries trying to help force President Bashar Assad from power.

The opposition and the rebel Free Syrian Army deny having any links to terrorism, and say they do not have the desire or the capabilities to carry out massive suicide bombings and other al-Qaeda-style attacks.

On Tuesday, the Site monitoring group, which tracks jihadist chatter on the internet, said the al-Nusra Front released statements on extremist websites in late June claiming the attacks were to avenge the killings of Syrians by the government.

One of the attacks targeted a pro-regime television station in the town of Drousha, south of the capital, Damascus, on 27 June. Seven people were killed in the attack on al-Ikhbariya TV.

Al-Nusra said the station is an arm of the regime and the attack sought to make the station "taste from the cup of torture" and force every member of the regime to wonder: "When will my turn come?" The statement included photos of 11 men it said were kidnapped in the attack.

Al-Ikhbariya is privately owned but often acts as a regime mouthpiece.

Other attacks in the latest claim of responsibility include dozens of armed raids and bombings - including suicide bombings - in Syrian cities.

Little is known about Al-Nusra, although Western intelligence officials say it could be a front for a branch of al-Qaeda militants from Iraq operating in Syria.

The group has claimed responsibility for a string of attacks in Syria, including suicide bombings, in the past.

In February, al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahri called on Muslims to support Syrian rebels.

"Wounded Syria is still bleeding day after day, and the butcher [Bashar Assad] isn't deterred and doesn't stop," al-Zawahri said at the time. He took over al-Qaeda after Osama bin Laden was killed by US special forces last May.

Although the Syrian opposition disavows links to terror, the presence of al-Qaeda among the forces fighting to oust Assad is a serious complicating factor for the international powers that say they want to help the opposition without empowering extremists along the way.

The Syrian regime is dominated by members of the Alawite sect, which is an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam. But Sunnis make up most of the population of 22 million and are the backbone of the opposition.

More than 14 000 people have been killed since the Syrian uprising began, according to activists.

Despite global outrage over the crackdown by the Assad regime, the international response has been focused entirely on diplomacy and sanctions as the violence escalates.

Military intervention has been all but ruled out in Syria for now, in part because the conflict has so much potential for escalation.

Damascus has strong allegiances to powerful forces including Lebanon's Hezbollah and Shiite powerhouse Iran.

There already are signs of a looming, regional conflict.

Syrian forces shot down a Turkish military plan on 22 June. Syria says the plane violated its airspace, but Turkey said the plane was hit over international waters.

On Wednesday, Turkey's state-run TRT television said a US deep-sea exploration vessel, E/V Nautilus, discovered the bodies of the two pilots.

Chaotic

The violence in Syria has grown increasingly chaotic over the course of the uprising, which began in March 2011 with mostly peaceful protests. Government forces launched a ferocious crackdown on the demonstrations, leading many people to take up arms.

The violence has become widespread and chaotic. Besides the government crackdown, rebel fighters are launching increasingly deadly attacks on regime targets, and several massive suicide attacks this year suggest al-Qaeda or other extremists are joining the fray.

Syria severely restricts the media in the country, making it difficult to gain a credible account of events on the ground.

There is virtually no way to perform an independent investigation in Syria, one of the most authoritarian states in the Middle East.

Assad has largely sealed off the country and prevented reporters from moving freely.

A team of around 300 UN monitors was sent to Syria to provide an unbiased look at the violence, but they have been confined to their hotels since 15 June because of the worsening violence.

On Wednesday, the head of the UN observer mission called on all sides to stop fighting - even as activists reported government shelling in five provinces across Syria.

"There is this feeling that there is too much talk in nice hotels, in nice meetings, and too little action to move forward and stop the violence," Norwegian Major General Robert Mood told reporters in Damascus.

In Geneva on Saturday, an international conference of world powers accepted a UN-brokered peace plan for Syria.

But the group left open the key question of whether Assad could be part of a transitional government.

The US backed away from insisting that the plan explicitly exclude Assad from any role in a new Syrian government, hoping the concession would encourage Russia to put greater pressure on its longtime ally to end the violent crackdown.

But the possibility that Assad could stay made the plan a nonstarter for those fighting to topple his regime.

The opposition, too, is in disarray. A key meeting of different opposition groups in Cairo concluded on Tuesday with only general agreements on a transitional period and the character of the post-Assad state.

They failed to create a unified leadership and papered over many other key differences.

Comments
  • fidel.mgoqi - 2012-07-04 19:45

    The amusing part is that UK, USA and many Western countries are supporting Al-Qaeda linked armed terrorist groups inside Syria. It is fact that these Syrian terrorists(or freedom fighters) are harbored, trained, financed, armed, supported and egged on by foreign powers to overthrow the government of Syria. That is aggression against Syria. The cardinal war crime.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-07-04 20:54

      Only a disturbed person , or some one soo full of hatred, will think ANYTHING funny with Syria. A nation where a MASS MURDERER has slaughtered 15 000 , mostly unarmed civilians !!!! What is a cardinal crime===to deny others what you soo eagerly ABUSE !!!

      keith.f.murphy - 2012-07-04 21:11

      anthonyfromafrica its time you should realise we all are not idiots.Im now convenced you a western vampire and its allies supporter.Fidel is right these opposition backed terrorist is sponsored from outside bottom line.

      keith.f.murphy - 2012-07-04 21:15

      fidel I agree 1000% with you

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-07-04 21:28

      @Anthony People who move the goalposts every five minutes in order to try and win an argument without actually bothering to provide any coherent argument are as inane as they are irritating. You flash your idiocy with great verve, I salute you and commiserate with those unfortunates whom you call family.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-07-04 21:51

      Keith, ""these opposition backed terrorist is sponsored from outside bottom line"" If you are happy believing this BS, IT IS FINE, ENJOY IT !! Nobody will stop you, and these two, Fidel and Patrick, LOVE this type of CRAP. Enjoy the rest of your evening !!

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-07-04 22:27

      Fidel, No,I don't move the goal posts, that is what radicals/extremists are good at. My message is very simple. I detest dictators. And when a people rise up against a dictator/tyrant , I take the side of the oppressed. NO IFS OR BUTS !! The problem with radicals is , that they believe they are on the right side of history. But what they believe is irrelevant. They have never yet made one iota difference in this world. Show me anywhere in Africa, where rdicals/extremists have created ONE JOB, or put ONE PLATE OF FOOD on the table. Radicals, and you are one of them, are LOSERS!!!

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-07-04 22:30

      Patrick, ...

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-07-04 22:53

      Aren't you a bit interested in responding to this article? I am not holding my breath. Dress it up any way you choose, but give the straw-grasping a rest.

      Richard - 2012-07-05 01:11

      Let me put it in historical perspective... When you look at those the US has funded at one time or another in history... eg the Taliban and Al Queda in Afghanistan and Sadaam in the eighties ... and those they have recently funded and are currently funding... Jihadist rebels from Benghazi and Al Queda terrorist cells in Homs... you get baffled about what kind of policy the US is following. That is until you realise what the US really is on the world stage ... a roving pirate incessantly looking for victims to despoil and ruin .. a roving international briggand prepared to allay with any sort of local bandit if the alliance advances its smash and grab agenda against hapless little nations. Then you get to see through the flimsy facade and obloquy and get to be called an evil extremist by paid trolls like antonfromafrica

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-07-05 04:18

      Dear Richard, Someone has to balance the BS you come up with; saif gaddafi is in jail, because he did not have a .........fishing permit !!!! hhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha saif gaddafi is in jail because....... his camel did not have a licence plate!!!! hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha You are funny,you bring us entertainment !!!

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-07-05 06:29

      Keith, you only have authority to speak for yourself, no-one else. So there's no "we". As long as you do this, you are free to choose to believe any nonsense you want, including what you've written here.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-07-05 06:31

      Richard, you're baffled because you're talking absolute nonsense. Hello! If you feel baffled, which you say you do, the obvious reason is because you're not making sense.

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-07-05 07:05

      @Anthony When people "write ha ha!" after their own joke, I imagine the laughter as a mixed tone of mania and hysteria.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-07-05 13:36

      "Beirut - An al-Qaeda-inspired group claimed responsibility for dozens of attacks across Syria, the latest evidence that extremists are exploiting the chaos to make inroads in another Middle Eastern country." Instead of actually reading the report, Fidel, Patrick, Richard and Keith arrogantly think we know better, and superimpose their own made-up story onto what is actually happening.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-07-05 17:54

      Fidel, You should learn to read !!! This is not a joke, I merely put down hahaha, in sheer bewilderment how anybody can even get BS like this, in his head !! Shame, we can't all be bright !!!

  • louise.minnie - 2012-07-04 21:23

    sometimes its better the devil you know than you dont know

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-07-04 21:43

      True that, in the real world we often have to chose between lesser evils and recognise that well intentioned actions can do more harm than good.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-07-04 23:01

      Radicals will ALWAYS try to justify EVIL, and it does not matter what or who. it can be Russia, assad, gaddafi, Mugabe, ETC ETC, It is not; power to the people, but power to the few !!!! THAT IS EVIL !!!

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-07-09 14:12

      To Richard, the unelected dictator Bashar Assad, who has killed htousands of unarmed demonstrators with sniper-fire, detained, tortured and raped tens of thousands more JUST BECAUSE THEY WANT TO VOTE, is the legitimate government of Syrian. By extension, he must have believed the unelected Apartheid government was the legitimate government of South Africa.

  • Richard - 2012-07-05 01:25

    I am not surprised... when you look at those the US has funded at one time or another in history... eg the Taliban and Al Queda in Afghanistan and Saddam in the eighties ... and those they have recently funded and are currently funding... Jihadist rebels from Benghazi and Al Queda terrorist cells in Homs... you might get baffled about what kind of foreign policy the US is following. That is until you realise what the US really is on the world stage ... a roving pirate incessantly looking for victims to despoil and ruin .. a roving international briggand prepared to allay with any sort of local bandit if the alliance advances its smash and grab agenda against hapless little nations.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-07-05 06:34

      You're still baffling yourself.

  • allcoveredinNinjas - 2012-07-05 09:09

    lol , thinking the western powers are supporting Al-qaeda in Syria is laughable. Mass leaps in logic to get there and didn't read the text of the article . It says " An al-Qaeda-inspired group claimed responsibility" , key word inspired . There are Al-quaeda in the UK and US , this is how they work and hardly the holy grail for Assad apologists . The headline would be "Al-Quaeda strikes in Syria" .It is however disturbing that Jihadist , Al-quaeda sympathizers are operating in the conflict which is only further going complicate the situation .

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-07-05 09:54

      Stop trying to evade the issue by splitting hairs over editorial headings? They are Jihadist, terrorists that the US and her NATO lackeys have declared a war on. Al Shabaab, Boko Haram, Abu Sayef, etc, are all Al Qaeda inspired terrorists groups. It is you who is an apologist for terrorists, because they are fighting on the side of empire this time around. Seriously, if you have not bothered reading the article, how dare you post in such authoritative tone?

      allcoveredinNinjas - 2012-07-05 11:57

      Really? Look at you comments and you accuse me of'daring' to post in a authoritive tone ?I'm not going to split hairs and say "Hypocrite"! and yes , there is a difference between Al-qaeda and other organisations , the only thing in common is literalist (perverted) interpretation of islam and the Koran. You didn't read the text, not me , which i pointed out and you admitted as 'splitting hairs', accuse me of terror apology (which you will never and have never seen on any forum) but at the same time do exactly the same thing. It still doesn't explain how a civil war can be fought by terrorists over more than a year now in the midst of wide spread protests. Even if this did come out as truth then Assad is still in a astonishingly bad position for wholesale security failures and for shelling civilian area's resulting in huge civilian loses . This is the problem , you don't focus on the problem with regard to what is known and go on tangents of US foreign policy and make statements of fact that are completely unsubstantiated eg: "UK, USA and many Western countries are supporting Al-Qaeda linked armed terrorist groups inside Syria " , by all means provide any evidence .

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-07-05 13:40

      Splitting hairs! Hahaha! How willfully dumb and outright stupid can a person be.

  • kafantaris2 - 2012-07-05 16:42

    No need to lament al Qaeda leaving Iraq for Syria, Mr. Zebari. Good riddance. This is poetic justice, indeed. Maybe al Qaeda will also go to Iran -- to greet that other regime that lives in a house of cards.

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