“No need to thank me” – Barack Obama
On Mar. 19, the al Qaeda leader known as Sanafi al Nasr returned to Twitter after an absence of more than a month and half. Nasr is both an official in al Qaeda’s global network and a senior strategist in the Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria. In several tweets, Nasr honored his deceased mother, mentioned the injuries he sustained last year, and asked Allah for success in the jihadists’ upcoming battle in Idlib.
Nasr’s tweets were not offhand remarks. He had good reasons to openly pray for success. The Nusrah Front and its jihadist allies have been preparing to launch a new offensive against Syrian regime forces in Idlib for some time.
Earlier this week, several rebel groups announced that they had established a new coalition named Jaysh al Fateh. In addition to Al Nusrah, the coalition includes Ahrar al Sham, Jund al Aqsa, Liwa al Haqq, Jaysh al Sunna, Ajnad al Sham, and Faylaq al Sham. The coalition has the city of Idlib in its crosshairs, having already captured much of the surrounding territory. The alliance launched its offensive today, utilizing suicide bombers in a complex assault.
The Jaysh al Fateh alliance is being promoted online with a new Twitter page. A screen shot of the Twitter feed can be seen above. And the groups behind it have already published propaganda on their own Twitter pages in support of their efforts.
For instance, the Al Nusrah Front posted a 1 minute, 13 second video earlier today showing two of its fighters firing an American-made TOW missile outside of Idlib. The video includes logos for both Al Nusrah’s “correspondents network” and Jaysh al Fateh in the upper lefthand corner.
A screen shot from the video can be seen [seen above]. In a follow-up tweet, Al Nusrah claimed to have successfully used a second TOW missile. This is not the first time Al Nusrah has advertised its use of American-made weapons. In December of last year, the group posted a video and pictures of its fighters using a TOW missile in Idlib. It is likely the weapons were captured from Western-backed groups, which have received some American-made arms.