by Compiled from Wire Services
Mar 07, 2015 12:00 am
Leaders of the Nusra Front are considering cutting their links with al-Qaida to form a new entity backed by some Gulf States trying to topple President Bashar al-Assad, sources have said. Sources within and close to Nusra said that some Gulf States, which enjoys good relations with the group, are encouraging the group to go ahead with the move, which would give Nusra a boost in funding. The exercise could transform Nusra from a weakened militia group into a force capable of taking on Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) at a time when it is under pressure from bombing raids and advances by Kurdish and Iraqi military forces.Intelligence officials from Gulf States have met the leader of Nusra, Abu Mohamad al-Golani, several times in the past few months to encourage him to abandon al-Qaida and to discuss what support they could provide, the sources said. They promised funding once it happens. "A new entity will see the light soon, which will include Nusra and Jaysh al Muhajereen wel Ansar and other small brigades," said Muzamjer al-Sham, a prominent figure that is close to Nusra and other militant groups in Syria. "The name of Nusra will be abandoned. It will disengage from al-Qaida. But not all the Nusra emirs agree and that is why the announcement has been delayed," said Sham.
It is claimed that one of the goals of the new entity would be to fight ISIS, Nusra's main competitor in Syria. Once the most powerful group fighting Assad, Nusra was weakened when most of its commanders and fighters left with Baghdadi to form ISIS. ISIS then killed many of Nusra's remaining leaders, confiscated its weapons, forced its commanders to go underground and seized its territory. Nusra wants to use northern Syria as base for the new group. It launched offensives against Western-backed groups who have been vetted by the U.S. to receive military support. In the northern province of Idlib it seized territory from the Syria Revolutionaries' Front led by Jamal Maarouf, forcing him to flee. Last week it went after another mainstream group, Harakat Hazzm in Aleppo province, forcing it to dissolve itself. But if Nusra is dissolved the ideology of the new entity is not expected to change.