The rise of Syria’s ‘third army’, Jabhat al-Nusra

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A third force has emerged in Syria’s civil war in the form of Jabhat al-Nusra, Islamist militants who have claimed responsibility for some of the conflict’s most deadly bomb attacks. US officials on Monday labelled the group a terrorist organisation.An October 11, 2012 file photo shows Syrian rebel fighters holding up their guns as they shout slogans in a street in the northern city of Aleppo following shelling by government forces. AFP photo

Amid Syria’s bloody civil war a third force has emerged to join the fight against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Despite its relatively small numbers – only several hundred fighters compared to the rebels’ tens of thousands and the regime’s hundreds of thousands – Jabhat al-Nusra (“the Support Front”) was officially recognised as a foreign terrorist organisation on Monday by the United States, which believes it is essentially a wing of al Qaeda in Iraq.

Officially, Jabhat al-Nusra militants are independent, loyal only to their goal of establishing a caliphate ruled in accordance with Sharia law. But on the ground they have often teamed up with the Free Syrian Army, according to one of FRANCE 24’s Observers, a local rebel commander.

PARIS – France 24

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