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Syrian rebels cast doubts over Nusra split with al-Qaeda Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Syrian rebels cast doubts over Nusra split with al-Qaeda

Nusra was a key member of the al-Qaeda global jihadist network [Getty]

Date of publication: 30 July, 2016

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Leading members of the Syrian rebels have told The New Arab they have serious doubts about the Nusra Front's recent announcement that it is ending its connection to al-Qaeda.

Leading members of the Syrian rebels have expressed serious scepticism over the Nusra Front's recent announcement that it is ending its connection to al-Qaeda.

This week, the head of the Nusra Front Abu Mohammed al-Jolani announced in a video that the Syrian rebel group was breaking ties with the terror network and changing its name to Jabhat Fateh al-Sham.

The official spokesman for the supreme negotiating body for the Syrian opposition, Riad Nassan Agha, said the spit would have no "positive effect" on the situation in the war-torn country.

"I don't think Jolani's announcement will have any positive impact because it has not been accepted internationally," Agha told The New Arab on Friday.

"The speech failed to mention changes to the group's makeup and goals."

The spokesman of the Saudi-backed rebel group Jaish al-Islam, Islam Alloush, told The New Arab that the move was "not enough" to win over the Syrian people.

"Without a doubt, the Nusra Front cutting ties with al-Qaeda is in the best interest of the people and their revolution to liberate the enslaved and oppressed Syrians from a brutal sectarian regime… however, it is simply not enough."

     
      Jolani revealed his face for the first time in the video [Twitter]

Alloush added that there were still many obstacles before Nusra could be incorporated into the Syrian opposition factions.

The US government has said it will continue to consider Nusra Front, a security threat despite the group's announcement.

Nusra first emerged in January 2012 - ten months after Syria's conflict began with anti-government protests that were brutally repressed by President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

It is Syria's preeminent Islamist militant group, along with its key rival the Islamic State group [IS].

But unlike IS, which opposes all those who fail to swear allegiance, Nusra has worked alongside an array of rebel groups fighting Assad's regime and has popular support.

Nusra is a key member of the al-Qaeda network, alongside North Africa's al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, based in Yemen.

But it has been eclipsed in recent years by IS due to its brutality, success on the battlefield in Syria and Iraq, and militant attacks in Europe and elsewhere.

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