Thursday, 26 January 2017
Why Fateh al-Sham is lashing out at Syrian rebels
'Al-Qaeda's former affiliate in Syria has thrown itself into a violent, desperate attempt to impose its will on other rebel groups, but its actions can only polarise and damage the hopes of the Syrian revolution, according to analysts. Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, the group formerly known as the Nusra Front, this week unleashed its fury on other groups it said were "conspiring" to undermine it by co-operating with the government of President Bashar al-Assad in peace talks in Astana.
It comes as JFS has in the past few weeks failed in a bid to create a new rebel coalition, and found itself isolated and facing a multi-front offensive: Russian, US and Syrian attacks on its positions, exclusion from ceasefire deals - and local JFS commanders are reported to believe that local rebels are now providing coordinates for the strikes. Its response has been severe: in one day of fighting on Wednesday on the fringes of Aleppo province, JFS attacked with sufficient force to destroy Jaish al-Mujahideen, a group allied with the Free Syrian Army and armed by the US, which had withstood months of bombardment by Assad during the battle for the provincial capital.